The Challenge of Chronic Virus Infections
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The career and contributions of Prof. Piet De Somer have bridged the era between the solution of major problems concerning acute virus infections and the newly emerging problems concerning the control of chronic infections due to microorganisms and especially those caused by viruses. His work on the ribonucleic acid of poliovirus hallmarked the beginning of molecular virology, and helped related investigations to stay the fear of poliomyelitis epidemics. He then pursued investigations on antiviral drugs and interferon, work still of great interest and importance. His strong interest in cancer viruses at a time when it was widely believed that viruses played no role in human neoplastic disease, has been amply justified by the discovery of a class of retroviruses associated with human T-cell lymphomas (HTLV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) (1,2) which predispose individuals to a variety of malignancies. I have no doubt that were he still alive today, his research interest would focus on chronic virus infections and ways to control or prevent disease by these viruses.