Scientists from the University of Pennsylvania have discovered a new vaccine that offers protection against genital herpes.
The vaccine that was tested on mice, as well as guinea pigs, was found to offer the strongest type of immunity against the herpes virus.
The findings of the study were published in the journal Science Immunology.
According to the researchers, the new herpes vaccine has been found to stimulate three different types of antibodies – one that stops the virus from invading the cells and other two that make sure the virus does not affect the protective functions of the immune system.
The scientists delivered the newly developed herpes vaccine to 64 mice and then exposed them to the virus. Sixty-three mice were found to have the strongest immunity after 28 days, which means they were immune to the virus and there was no trace of the virus after getting exposed.
The researchers also tested the vaccine in 10 guinea pigs.No animal was found to develop genital herpes.
Lead study author and professor of Infectious Disease Dr. Harvey Friedman said, “We’re extremely encouraged by the substantial immunizing effect our vaccine had in these animal models. Based on these results, it is our hope that this vaccine could be translated into human studies to test both the safety and efficacy of our approach.”
Also called herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), genital herpes is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases. In the United States, more than 14 percent of people aged between 14 and 59 are infected. Worldwide, more than 11 percent of people between the same age groups are infected. Genital herpes can cause painful sores that may spread to other regions of the body.
“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.”
Herpes often goes undetected unless there is an outbreak, so the researchers explained that a successful vaccine is essential.