PRAGUE – Antonin Holy, a renowned Czech scientist whose research significantly contributed to the development of antiviral drugs, has died, his long-time research institute said Tuesday.
Prague's Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the Academy of Sciences where Holy has been working since 1960 says he died Monday after battling an unspecified long-term disease. He was 75.
He died the same day the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a drug Holy helped to create.
Truvada, which is made by the U.S. pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences, is the first drug shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection. It is intended to be taken as a preventive measure for healthy people who are at high risk of acquiring HIV through sexual activity, such as those who have HIV-infected partners.
Holy, a research professor of nucleic acid chemistry, helped discover substances that are part of current-day drugs, such as Viread and Vistide, which are used for treatment of HIV-infected patients, and Hepsera, that is used in the treatment of hepatitis B.
Holy has more than 60 patents to his name and is an author of some 600 scientific papers. Since 1976, he worked closely with professor Erik De Clercq from the Leuven University, Belgium.
In 2002, Holy received the EU Descartes Award for Scientific research and holds honorary degrees from several universities at home and abroad.
Gilead Sciences, which is based in Foster City, California donated $1.1 million a year, starting in 2006 to his institute to fund Holy's research.
Holy was born Sept 1, 1936 in Prague and only retired a year ago.
"Science is a real hard work," Holy said.
His institute called his death "an immense loss."