Herpes Vaccine Experiment Prevented Genital Lesions in Animals

University of Pennsylvania researchers say a trivalent nucleoside-modified mRNA-LNP vaccine is a promising candidate for human trials
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(Precision Vaccinations News)

A new herpes simplex 2 virus (HSV2) vaccine study in animals reported an experimental vaccine developed at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) has prevented genital lesions in 98 percent of mice and guinea pigs tested.

This Harvey M. Friedman, M.D., led study concluded saying ‘a trivalent nucleoside-modified mRNA-LNP vaccine is a promising candidate for human trials.’

“We’re extremely encouraged by the substantial immunizing effect our vaccine had in these animal models,” said the study’s principal investigator Dr. Friedman, in a press release.

While this study’s conclusion published on September 20, 2019, is very positive news, a human-based vaccine candidate may take several years of development before becoming commercially available.

In this study, the researchers found the trivalent protein vaccine prevented dorsal root ganglia infection, and day 2 and 4 vaginal cultures were negative in 73 percent of the mice compared with 98 percent in the mRNA group.

In guinea pigs, 50 percent of the animals in the trivalent subunit protein group had vaginal shedding of HSV-2 DNA on 19 of 210 days.

These Penn researchers reported the trivalent mRNA vaccine was superior to trivalent proteins in stimulating ELISA IgG antibodies, neutralizing antibodies, antibodies that bind to crucial gD2 epitopes involved in entry and cell-to-cell spread, CD4+ T cell responses, and T follicular helper and germinal center B cell responses.

“Along with physical symptoms, HSV-2 takes an emotional toll,” said Dr.Friedman. 

“People worry over the transmission of the disease, and it can certainly have a negative effect on intimate relationships.”

Most people with the herpes virus don’t have symptoms, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

It is important to know that you can also get herpes from an infected sex partner who does not have a visible sore or who may not know that he or she is infected, because the virus can be released through your skin and spread the infection to your sex partner.

Fluids found in a herpes sore carry the virus, and contact with those fluids can cause infection. You can get herpes by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the disease.

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Genital herpes is very common in the United States, as about one out of every six people aged 14 to 49 years has genital herpes, says the CDC.

Recent Herpes HSV2 vaccine news

Medications make it less likely that you will spread herpes to a sex partner. There are medications in pill form commonly used to treat genital herpes symptoms: Zovirax, and Valtrex. 

These medications can shorten a herpes outbreak by a day or two, provided you take them within 24 hours of the first signs of an outbreak. 

Furthermore, taken daily, these drugs can also reduce the number of recurrences and decrease viral shedding, says the CDC.

These herpes medications are available at most pharmacies in the USA.

Additional Penn authors on the study include Sita Awasthi, Lauren M. Hook, Norbert Pardi, Fushan Wang, Arpita Myles, Michael P. Cancro, Gary H. Cohen, and Drew Weissman. No conflicts of interest were disclosed.

This vaccine candidate was funded by the National Institutes of Health (AI045008) and BioNTech SE.

Editor’s Note: Penn has licensed certain Penn-owned intellectual property to BioNTech for development and commercialization of mRNA vaccines for infectious diseases, including IP rights related to an HSV-2 mRNA vaccine. Penn and Penn inventors may be eligible to receive a financial benefit if an HSV-2 vaccine is clinically developed and commercialized by BioNTech.

Penn Medicine is one of the world’s leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care.

Herpes news is published by Precision Vaccinations

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