Herpes Vaccine Candidate Delta gD-2 Accelerates With $56 Million Dollars

X-Vax Technology Delta gD-2 (∆gD-2) herpes vaccine candidate

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A Jupiter, Florida-based biotechnology company announced that it has raised $56 million to advance X-Vax's vaccine candidate against herpes, called Delta gD-2 (∆gD-2).

This is good news since there is no approved herpes simplex vaccine available today.

Furthermore, various attempts to develop an effective herpes vaccine have repeatedly failed to reach FDA approval, such as Genocea Biosciences’s Gen-003 and Vical’s VCL-HB01 vaccine candidates.

X-Vax said in a press release on July 23, 2019, that it ‘intends to launch a Phase 1 clinical study based on a new vaccine approach that mediates the killing of infected cells.’

Betsy Herold, M.D., vaccine co-inventor and Professor of Pediatrics, Microbiology & Immunology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, said in this press release, "The ability of the herpes virus to successfully escape clearance by the immune system and to establish a non-replicating state known as latency with periodic reactivation results in lifelong infection and ongoing risk of transmission."

Additionally, William Jacobs, Ph.D., vaccine co-Inventor, said: “In nonclinical models, immunization with delta gD-2 elicits antibodies that facilitate the killing of infected cells, rapidly clearing the virus and thereby inducing sterilizing immunity.”

Recent herpes vaccine news

Types of Herpes Virus

Herpes is a common sexually transmitted disease that any sexually active person can acquire. Herpes is similar to syphilis and gonorrhea, which do not have preventive vaccines available either.

Herpes simplex virus is categorized into 2 types: herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). 

More than 3.7 billion people under the age of 50 around the world are infected with HSV-1, while over 400 million have HSV-2, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Furthermore, about 85 percent of genital herpes cases are undiagnosed and unrecognized, although the carrier could be infectious to their partners.

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Which means, developing a preventive herpes vaccine is very important.

Additionally, an April 2019 study reported Neonatal Herpes Virus (nHSV) infections can be devastating, with a 60 percent fatality rate without treatment.

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Other nHSV complications include encephalitis or meningitis, and infectious blindness.

And the CDC says HSV Keratitis is an infection of the cornea that is caused by HSV. The infection usually heals without damaging the eye, but more severe infections can lead to scarring of the cornea or blindness.

Herpes treatments

Antiviral drug therapy shows only moderate efficacy and comes with significant side effects says the CDC. 

There are 3 medications in pill form commonly used to treat genital herpes symptoms:

  • acyclovir (Zovirax)
  • famciclovir (Famvir)
  • valacyclovir (Valtrex)

These oral 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. Taken daily, these drugs can also reduce the number of recurrences and decrease viral shedding.

Recently, research published on April 8th, 2019, found women who frequently used a preventive vaginal gel Tenofovir significantly reduced their risk of acquiring genital herpes.

Tenofovir, a nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitor, is approved in its oral formulation for the treatment of human immunodeficiency virus infection and Hepatitis B.

And, on April 2nd, 2019, the US Food and Drug Administration approved Avaclyr 3% for the treatment of herpetic keratitis, which is a major cause of blindness, says the CDC.

Avaclyr (acyclovir ophthalmic ointment) 3 percent, is a herpes simplex virus nucleoside analog DNA polymerase inhibitor and is indicated in the treatment of acute herpetic keratitis (dendritic ulcers) in patients with herpes simplex (HSV-1 and HSV-2) virus. 

The most common adverse reactions from Avaclyr reported in patients were eye pain, punctate keratitis, and follicular conjunctivitis.

These medications are available at most pharmacies, and co-pay coupons can easily be found at Discounts. 

The CDC says if you have additional questions about how herpes is spread, treated, and prevented, discuss your concerns with a healthcare provider.

X-Vax Technology, Inc. is a biotech company committed to developing vaccines against pathogens acquired by a mucosal infection such as herpes.