February 4th 2011

French virologist Prof Luc Montagnier, who won a Nobel prize in 2008 for his role in discovering HIV, has announced that he will soon be moving to the prestigious Jiaotong University in Shanghai to open a new research institute, dedicated to investigating further his recent findings on the electromagnetic properties of dilute DNA fragments. In an interview forScience magazine on 24 December 2010 [1], he discussed his work and the reasons for such a move at the age of 78, which include the “fear around this topic” in Europe.

His findings suggest that under the right conditions electromagnetic signals can be transmitted from test tubes containing the diluted DNA sample, to a test tube containing only water, and that when enzymes which copy DNA molecules are then added to this water they behave as if DNA molecules are present, producing new DNA molecules. This ‘teleportation’ effect of the DNA, coupled with the high dilutions of the initial sample have attracted much controversy.

Aspects which relate directly to homeopathy are the fact that serial dilution and agitation of the DNA sample is necessary for the electromagnetic signals to be generated (the same method used to manufacture homeopathic medicines) and that these signals are detected at dilutions as high as 10 -18 when molecules of DNA would no longer be present. Although Montagnier has not been able to demonstrate effects at the higher levels of dilution used in many homeopathic medicines, his work in an important step in demonstrating biological effects of ultra-molecular samples.

When asked, “Do you think there’s something to homeopathy…?” he replied, “I can’t say that homeopathy is right in everything. What I can say now is that the high dilutions are right. High dilutions of something are not nothing. They are water structures which mimic the original molecules.” As this is the most controversial aspect of homeopathy, this comment by such an eminent scientist will be of interest to both sceptics and supporters of homeopathy alike.

A recent editorial in New Scientist entitled ‘Why we have to teleport disbelief’ quotes the sceptical reactions of several scientists to Montagnier’s work, but this is to be expected with such potentially ground-breaking work.


NEWSMAKER INTERVIEW: LUC MONTAGNIER French Nobelist Escapes “Intellectual Terror” to Pursue Radical Ideas in China. Martin Enserink Science 24 December 2010: 1732. [DOI:10.1126/science.330.6012.1732]