The Fascinating Story about Suppressing HIV
26. 11. 2019
The joint tireless efforts of Czech chemist Antonín Holý and Belgian virologist Erik De Clercq to develop new antiviral drugs is the theme of the book entitled Cold War Triangle: How Scientists in East and West Tamed HIV by Renilde Loeckx. Its Czech version was launched in Prague on November 12, 2019.
The greatest successes of the Czech biomedicine over the past several decades include the discovery of new antiviral compounds that can save lives of millions of people suffering from hepatitis B and AIDS. They have come into existence thanks to close co-operation among Czech chemist Antonín Holý of the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS, Belgian virologist Erik De Clercq from KU Leuven and the US biotechnology company Gilead Sciences Inc., which focuses mainly on antiviral medicines.
It was almost a miracle. In spite of the Cold War, the two scientists divided by the Iron Curtain joined forces to synthesize and test numerous new compounds. Against the backdrop of the unfolding AIDS epidemic, they made every effort to select the ones with the greatest potential for treating several viral infections. Together with the Gilead Sciences, they achieved their goal and produced a new class of highly effective drugs used to combat HIV and AIDS.
Erik De Clercq
The book Cold War Triangle: How Scientists in East and West Tamed HIV by Renilde Loeckx tells their fascinating story. Asked by the Czech Academy of Sciences why she had decided to depict their persevering struggle, she said: “Professor Erik De Clercq is, of course, very satisfied that many viruses, including the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) have been defeated. He nevertheless points out that modern virology still faces numerous challenges.”
The book was translated into Czech by Jaroslav Kurfürst and it was launched at the Dejvice Theatre in Prague on November 12, 2019. The presentation ceremony was held under the auspices of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Belgium and the US Embassy in the Czech Republic. Apart from Prof. Erik De Clercq and Renilde Loeckx, it was also attended by the Belgian ambassador Grégoire Cuvelier, US ambassador Stephen B. King, IOCB Prague director Zdeněk Hostomský, former IOCB Prague director and the Vice director of the CAS Zdeněk Havlas and many other distinguished guests.
Prepared by: Jana Olivová, Division of External Relations of the CAO of the CAS
Photo: Tomáš Belloň, Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS
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