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.
Lead author Stephen E. Straus, MD, senior investigator in the Medical Virology Section in the Laboratory of Clinical Infectious Diseases at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health, tested the vaccines in two established animal models of herpes infection. The HMS vaccine, developed by David Knipe, HMS professor of microbiology and molecular genetics, 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 d15-29's biological and immunological properties, it appears to be the most compelling new vaccine candidate for genital herpes," he said.
Straus said that dl5-29 seemed especially promising because it solves a critical problem that is believed to underlie the failure of previous candidate vaccines. The dominant approach to herpes vaccine development over the past 20 years has been the delivery of one or two pure glycoproteins found in the outer envelope of the virus in order to induce an antibody response. But in trials of HSV-2 vaccines, a healthy antibody response has not seemed sufficient to protect against infection. One ver
Contact: John Lacey
Harvard Medical School