Novel Genital Herpes Vaccine Effective in Animal Trials

A new trivalent vaccine that has proven effective in the prevention of HSV-2 in animal trials could be headed for human trials soon.

Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) affects approximately a half-billion individuals worldwide, making a vaccine widely needed. A new trivalent vaccine that has proven effective in the prevention of HSV-2 in animal trials could be headed for human trials soon, according to a report published in PLOS Pathogens.

The new vaccine induces an immune response that targets 3 different parts of the virus, blocking its ability to enter cells and evade immune system detection. The vaccine was 98% effective in protecting guinea pigs from the infection. The guinea pigs were almost completely protected from genital herpes lesions, and only 5% of the tested animals exhibited the viral DNA.

The vaccine also promoted an immune response in monkeys that increased antibodies targeting the virus.

Genital herpes can cause severe health effects, and can make individuals more susceptible to HIV infection. An effective vaccine could have a profound effect on curbing HIV transmissions, and protecting more individuals from becoming infected.

The researchers said they are looking to further develop the vaccine and move toward human testing, and they added that human trials could begin in 18 months if a business partner is found. Although the vaccine showed promising results in animals, it remains to be seen whether it will uphold the same effectiveness in humans.

The authors reported no conflicts of interest in the study.

Reference

Awasthi S, Hook LM, Shaw CE, et al. An HSV-2 Trivalent Vaccine Is Immunogenic in Rhesus Macaques and Highly Efficacious in Guinea Pigs. PLOS Pathogens. 2017; http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1006141.