Research holds promise for herpes vaccine

A study by a Montana State University researcher suggests a new avenue for developing a vaccine against genital herpes and other diseases caused by herpes simplex viruses. In a study published earlier this year in the Virology Journal, MSU virologist William Halford showed that mice vaccinated with a live, genetically-modified herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) showed no signs of disease 30 days after being exposed to a particularly lethal “wild-type” strain of the virus.A study by a Montana State University researcher suggests a new avenue for developing a vaccine against genital herpes and other diseases caused by herpes simplex viruses.

In a study published earlier this year in the Virology Journal, MSU virologist William Halford showed that mice vaccinated with a live, genetically-modified herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) showed no signs of disease 30 days after being exposed to a particularly lethal “wild-type” strain of the virus.

In contrast, a second group of mice that received a more conventional vaccine died within six days of being exposed to the same “wild-type” strain.

“We have a clear roadmap for producing an effective live vaccine against genital herpes,” said Halford, who works in MSU’s Department of Veterinary Molecular Biology. “Although my studies were performed with HSV-1, the implications for HSV-2-induced genital herpes are clear. Overall the two viruses are about 99 percent genetically identical.”

An estimated 55 million Americans carry herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), which causes genital herpes. Infection is life-long. Approximately 5 percent of those with genital herpes – 2 million to 3 million Americans – suffer outbreaks one to four times annually. A vaccine offering life-long protection does not exist.

The key to Halford’s research was understanding how the herpes simplex virus overcame the body’s natural defenses.

A cell infected with the herpes simplex virus sends a warning to neighboring cells. This warning — an interferon response — causes neighboring cells to enter “an anti-viral state” akin to putting on a suit of armor, Halford said.

However, herpes produces a protein, ICP0, that tricks every infected cell into destroying its own armor. Once the cell’s armor is gone, the virus can propagate itself and spread to other cells, which are in turn tricked into lowering their defenses.

In his research, Halford created a vaccine where the genetic instructions that make ICP0 were disrupted. Without instructions on how to do its clever ICP0 trick, the virus can still establish an infection in animals, but the spread of the virus is stopped long before disease can occur.

“In short, we can disarm the virus such that it is absolutely unable to cause disease, but is still remarkably potent as a vaccine,” Halford said.

In a human vaccine, the genetic instructions for ICP0 would actually be removed, creating an “attenuated,” or weakened virus. The rest of the herpes simplex virus’ genetic code would remain intact. Measles, mumps, rubella, polio and yellow fever vaccines are all made from attenuated viruses.

Research in recent decades has focused on subunit vaccines, which are made from one piece of a virus (a protein subunit). Subunit vaccines are safer than attenuated virus vaccines because the subunit cannot replicate or cause disease. However, subunit vaccines have proven ineffective in protecting people against persistent infections like genital herpes and AIDS, Halford said.

“From a theoretical standpoint, subunit vaccines are poor mimics of a natural virus infection,” Halford said. “There’s not enough there for our immune systems to build a protective response against the actual virus.”

Halford, 38, is aware that his approach is controversial.

“This is where I’m young enough that I don’t know how long it can take to swing popular opinion among scientists and clinicians,” he said. “I would hope that in five to six years the scientific community would be willing to seriously consider these proposals.”

Halford hopes to find a commercial partner or secure government funding to advance his research toward a human vaccine.

“I’d like to take this concept from the chalkboard to the clinics,” he said.

From Montana State University

 



259 COMMENTS

  1. It seems to me that governments throughout the world have ignored this virus its stated here that over 55million US citizens carry the virus I don,t understand why some one hasent formed a political party and stand for election demanding funding from the government to find a treatment for herpies (vacine or preventable medication) surely if 55million people voted for that person the US government would have to do something about it

  2. This paper leaves me with a bunch of questions. Will this new vaccine or the research around it lead to something that will help those that are aready infected with the HSV ? Or is this just going to prevent those that take if from becoming infected? Seems to me that there are still a lot of questions to be answered and that we remain years away from any help of importance. I like to keep my readers abreast of any new developments at http://www.feverblistercure.com and hope that you will be bring more “exacting” information to light regarding this research.

  3. It is important to see your doctor right away for treatment for the infection if you find yourself suffering from any herpes symptoms. Genital herpes can be managed quite effectively if your doctor examines the male herpes symptoms soon after you become aware of them. Suffering from the disease does not mean that life, as you know it will end. You can still live a normal and active life, both outside and inside the bedroom.

    With this said, the psychological effects can become a problem. Men have been known to become extremely depressed, due to fear of having more outbreaks or infecting their partner. By learning about the true risks of genital herpes, you can start to consider male herpes symptoms and outbreaks a minor nuisance instead of something to be feared.

  4. Correction, I researched recent results of these herpes vaccine trials at herpes symptoms and it seems that the HerpeVac trial was found ineffective in women. I do understand from further research that there are more vaccine trials and treatment options in the works at multiple pharma companies.

  5. I researched recent results of these herpes vaccine trials at herpes symptoms and it seems that the HerpeVac trial was found ineffective in women. I do understand from further research that there are more vaccine trials and treatment options in the works at multiple pharma companies.

  6. I really appreciate all this information it sucks to know how many people on this world suffer with this virus all we ask is that u help get rid of it so we can have more stability with our families and loved ones thank u so much for just trying!!!!!!!! It means the world!!!!!!!!!!!!:-(
    I never had an outbreak but sometimes I feel the symptoms and it drives me crazy I to have have children and it makes mr sad because I’m always depressed about having it when I should be happy cause they are around and I just feel out of place no matter how many people try to tell me it’s not that bad it’s not the end of the world I feel it is I just want my life back the way it was bd

  7. I really appreciate all this information it sucks to know how many people on this world suffer with this virus all we ask is that u help get rid of it so we can have more stability with our families and loved ones thank u so much for just trying!!!!!!!! It means the world!!!!!!!!!!!!:-(
    I never had an outbreak but sometimes I feel the symptoms and it drives me crazy I to have childrea

  8. i like so many others just recently found out i have the virus as well. it came as such a shock and i cried like a baby trying to get my head to wrap around it. i have been with my fiance for almost five years now and the thought of telling him and losing him made me sick to my stomach.i have always been honest with him and could not hold this from him regardless to the after fact.i gathered up as much courage as i could and told him the next day, i knew this was the result of someething bad and that couldnt b prevented. as we talked he said it ok i love you and regardless im not goin anywhere. at first i would have never thought someone could be so understanding and loving and now i know that there are people out there who realy love you when they say they do threw thick and thin. i have been blessed to have him in my life and even more now i thank god every morning for bringin him into my life. i hope that mayb one day they will be able to help us with this problem it was created from somewhere hopefully it can end somewhere . juss have faith and be true to your self and the ones you love and it will hopefully work out for the best .