Herpes Simplex Virus Vaccine Hopes Dashed

Viruses and viral diseases can be prevented using vaccines that have been proven to be largely safe after all, according to extensive research.

A vaccine being developed for herpes simplex virus disappointed developers when it showed only a limited ability to prevent one form of the sexually transmitted virus, and no ability at all to stop a second form from spreading. According to HealthDay News, the vaccine was proven ineffective after a randomized trial involving more than 8,000 women.

“We were disappointed it did not meet the primary [goal], which was protection against all types of genital herpes,” said study author Robert Belshe of Saint Louis University. “Herpes is a complex organism and has ways of escaping the immune system, so we have to figure out a way of overcoming those mechanisms.”

In testing the experimental vaccine, American and Canadian researchers gave the injection to half of the 8,300 women from ages 18 to 30 who tested negative for both forms of herpes. The other half of the group was given the hepatitis A vaccine.

The vaccine proved to be 58 percent effective at preventing disease from the HSV-1 strain, but entirely ineffective against HSV-2.

The research team expressed their disappointment at the trial results, and said they would have to effectively start over in their quest to find a vaccine for the genital disease.

“I think this is the end of the vaccine,” said researcher Peter Leone from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. “It would be difficult to imagine marketing a vaccine that would only work against HSV-1.” According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, herpes is a common form of sexually transmitted infection; about 60 percent of adults in the country are currently infected with HSV-1, while one in six Americans between the ages of 14 to 49 has HSV-2.
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