Findings recommend herpes vaccine for human trials

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Medical School professor’s vaccine found best in study

Research published in the January 2005 Journal of Virology compared three different experimental vaccines for herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2), which causes most cases of genital herpes. Lead author Stephen Straus, senior investigator in the Medical Virology Section in the Laboratory of Clinical Infectious Diseases at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, tested the vaccines in two established animal models of herpes infection. A vaccine developed by Harvard researcher David Knipe, called dl5-29, outperformed the other two vaccines, one of which has already been tested in humans. Straus said that the results argue strongly for taking dl5-29 into human trials. “Based upon dl5-29’s biological and immunological properties, it appears to be the most compelling new vaccine candidate for genital herpes,” he said. HSV-2 infects one in five Americans, and its prevalence has reached 50 percent in some developing countries, where it also seems to be helping to fuel the spread of HIV. HSV-2 infection, though incurable, typically does not cause major health problems, but can be life-threatening in immunocompromised people and newborn babies infected by their mothers.