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    Vaccine has potential to prevent genital herpes

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    The conventional thinking is that an effective HSV-2 vaccine must stimulate the body to produce neutralizing antibodies, particularly against the viral protein glycoprotein D (gD-2) through which HSV-2 accesses human cells. Researchers in the past have focused on “sub-unit” herpes vaccines that rely primarily on gD-2 as the antigen to stimulate the body’s antibody response. None of these, however, has prevented HSV-2 infection in humans.

    Using a non-traditional approach, a research team at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, N.Y research team—headed by Betsy Herold, M.D., and William Jacobs Jr., Ph.D.—developed a vaccine that prevented active and latent infections caused by herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) from occurring in mice and published their findings.1

    READ: HPV vaccine uptake slow, HSV therapies advancing

    According to Dr. Jacobs, professor and Leo and Julia Forchheimer chair in microbiology and immunology at Einstein, the team took an approach that runs counter to what most scientists take. “We took a completely different approach and deleted glycoprotein D from the virus,” Dr. Herold, vice chair for research at Einstein, told Dermatology Times. “The deleted strain, which is markedly attenuated and cannot spread, is completely safe and provided 100% protection against both HSV-1 and HSV-2, and prevented the establishment of latency in different mouse models, including a model of skin infection.”

    When the vaccine, called delta-gD-2, was given to mice, it provided complete protection against subsequent infection with normal HSV-2. No virus was detected in vaginal or skin tissue of vaccinated mice or in neural tissue, where HSV-2 often lays latent. When unvaccinated mice were challenged with HSV-2, all showed evidence of the virus in the three tissue sites, and all succumbed to the disease. Initial tests suggest that the vaccine is also effective against HSV-1, though further evaluation is needed to confirm this.

    NEXT: Safety of vaccine

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