Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Progress made toward a genital herpes vaccine

Date:
January 6, 2012
Source:
Saint Louis University
Summary:
New research points investigators toward finding a genital herpes vaccine that works on both viruses that cause disease.

An investigational vaccine protected some women against infection from one of the two types of herpes simplex viruses that cause genital herpes, according to findings in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The vaccine was partially effective at preventing herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), but did not protect women from herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). There were less than half of the cases of genital herpes caused by HSV-1 -- 58 percent fewer -- in women who received the investigational vaccine compared to women who received the control vaccine.

"There is some very good news in our findings. We were partially successful against half of the equation -- protecting women from genital disease caused by HSV-1," said Robert Belshe, M.D., director of the Saint Louis University Center for Vaccine Development and lead author of the study.

"It's a big step along the path to creating an effective vaccine that protects against genital disease caused by herpes infection. It points us in the direction to work toward making a vaccine that works on both herpes simplex viruses."

Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 are members of the herpesvirus family. Typically, HSV-2 causes lesions and blisters in the genital area. HSV-1 generally causes sores in the mouth and lips, although it increasingly has been found to cause genital disease.

There currently is no cure or approved vaccine to prevent genital herpes infection, which affects about 25 percent of women in the United States and is one of the most common communicable diseases. Once inside the body, HSV remains there permanently. The virus can cause severe neurological disease and even death in infants born to women who are infected with HSV and the virus is a risk factor for sexual transmission of HIV.

The clinical trial of an investigational genital herpes vaccine was funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which is part of the National Institutes of Health, along with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), and conducted at 50 sites in the U.S. and Canada.

The study enrolled 8,323 women between ages 18 and 30 who did not have HSV-1 or HSV-2 infection at the start of the study. They were randomly assigned to receive either three doses of the investigational HSV vaccine that was developed by GSK or a hepatitis A vaccine, which was the control.

Participants were followed for 20 months and evaluated carefully for occurrence of genital herpes disease. In addition, all study participants were given blood tests to determine if asymptomatic infection with HSV-1 or HSV-2 occurred during the trial. Researchers found that two or three doses of the investigational vaccine offered significant protection against genital herpes disease caused by HSV-1. However the vaccine did not protect women from genital disease caused by HSV-2.

"We were surprised by these findings," said Belshe, who also is a professor of infectious diseases and immunology at Saint Louis University School of Medicine. "We didn't expect the herpes vaccine to protect against one type of herpes simplex virus and not another. We also found it surprising that HSV-1 was a more common cause of genital disease than was HSV-2."

HSV-1 infection has become an increasingly common cause of genital disease, likely because more couples are engaging in oral sex. HSV-1 and HSV-2 are spread by direct contact -- mouth to mouth, mouth to genitals and genitals to genitals -- even when the infected person shows no symptoms, Belshe added.

Researchers are conducting laboratory tests on serum obtained from study participants as they continue to study why the vaccine protected women from genital disease caused by HSV-1 and not HSV-2.

One hypothesis, Belshe said, is HSV-1 is more easily killed by antibodies than is HSV-2. This means that the vaccine antibodies might work better against HSV-1 and result in protection from HSV-1 but not HSV-2.

Earlier studies of the investigational herpes vaccines showed it protected against genital herpes disease in women who were not infected with HSV-1 or HSV-2, but whose sexual partners were known to have genital herpes. Researchers believe the reason for the different outcome in the most recent clinical trial could be related to the fact that different populations were studied. The women in the earlier studies may have been protected due to immunologic or behavioral factors not present in the later study.

"It's always important to confirm scientific findings in repeated studies, which is why we investigated the vaccine in a large, placebo controlled trial," Belshe said. "Our findings confirmed the validity of the scientific process. You've got to have good scientific evidence that something actually works."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Saint Louis University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Robert B. Belshe et al. Efficacy Results of a Trial of a Herpes Simplex Vaccine. New England Journal of Medicine, Jan 5, 2012 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1103151

Cite This Page:

Saint Louis University. "Progress made toward a genital herpes vaccine." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 January 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120104174816.htm>.
Saint Louis University. (2012, January 6). Progress made toward a genital herpes vaccine. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120104174816.htm
Saint Louis University. "Progress made toward a genital herpes vaccine." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120104174816.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is blaming doctors for the low number of children being vaccinated for HPV. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins