Navigation Links
Immune Cell Discovery May One Day Lead to Herpes Vaccine: Study

By Brenda Goodman
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, May 8 (HealthDay News) -- A specialized kind of immune cell that patrols the skin of people infected with the herpes virus appears to prevent the outbreak of painful sores, a new study suggests.

Researchers think the cells may be key to developing a potential vaccine against genital herpes, which afflicts more than 24 million people in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For the study, published online May 8 in the journal Nature, researchers took skin samples from people infected with HSV-2, the virus that causes genital herpes, and followed them as they healed from recent outbreaks.

Working with a high-powered microscope, researchers used fluorescent stains to find and label different types of immune cells in the skin. They were most interested in cells called CD8 killer T-cells.

Unlike antibodies, which bind to bacteria and viruses, preventing them from infecting cells in the first place, CD8 cells are a second line of defense, said Bryan Cullen, director of the Center for Virology at Duke University, in Durham, N.C.

"They kill virus-infected cells as quickly as possible after they become infected," said Cullen, who also studies herpes infections but was not involved in the research. Killing infected cells prevents them from becoming factories that crank out more copies of the virus, he said.

Scientists once thought that all CD8 cells roamed the body, looking for infected cells through the bloodstream.

By watching the immune response as it unfolded in the skin, researchers realized that there were special CD8 cells that stayed in place, patrolling the area around nerve endings like beat cops. They guessed that the cells were waiting for the herpes virus to emerge and cause trouble.

To test that theory, they used very fine lasers to pluck out these specialized cells to see what kinds of proteins they were making.

In skin that had some shedding of the herpes virus, the specialized CD8 cells made a lot of perforin, a protein that penetrates membranes to kill cells. In skin with no active virus, the specialized CD8 cells didn't make any perforin, suggesting that the function of the cells is indeed to kill herpes-infected cells.

The specialized CD8 cells also made other proteins to summon backup cells to the site to help tamp down the attack. And they didn't seem to make chemical signals that sound the all-clear, a message to immune responders that it's time to leave the area, which may explain why they stick around in the skin.

"We actually showed they were a very unique population of cells," said study senior author Dr. Lawrence Corey, a virologist and president and director of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle. "They can stay in the skin for extended periods of time, they appear to have memory, they appear to have the kind of markers that go in response to a specific infection."

He added that doctors once thought herpes, which lies dormant in nerve cells, would reawaken and travel up the nerve endings to the skin surface where it would cause painful sores, and that it would take a couple of days for the body to respond and fight off each new assault.

He said the new research shows that such outbreaks are the exception, rather than the rule. The specialized CD8 cells in the skin seem to do a pretty good job of keeping the virus under control.

"It seems to me that if we improve their job, and if we study them and ask the questions -- How do we give them more help? How do we make them live longer? How do we make them function better? How do we increase their number? -- we may be able to develop an effective herpes vaccine," Corey said.

A vaccine against herpes would be a significant achievement. Aside from abstinence, there's no surefire way to prevent herpes infections. Condoms can reduce the risk of transmission, although the virus can still be shed from skin areas that condoms don't cover.

Experts caution that although the new finding is promising, a vaccine is still likely to be a long way off.

"They have good correlative evidence" that the specialized CD8 cells in skin keep the virus at bay, Cullen said. He added, however, that the research doesn't prove that boosting these cells would prevent infections.

He said it will take many more studies to demonstrate that -- if, in fact, it's true.

"It's time to take it to the next level," Cullen said.

As for cold sores (or fever blisters) on the lips or around the mouth -- also caused by the herpes simplex virus -- the researchers said that although it seems logical that those same CD8 cells might be at work, they didn't analyze it in this study.

More information

To find out more about genital herpes, head to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCES: Bryan Cullen, Ph.D., director, Center for Virology, Duke University, Durham, N.C.; Lawrence Corey, M.D., Ph.D., president and director, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, Seattle; May 8, 2013, Nature

Copyright©2012 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Temple scientists weaken HIV infection in immune cells using synthetic agents
2. Estrogen fuels autoimmune liver damage
3. New findings on the brains immune cells during Alzheimers disease progression
4. Current HPV vaccine may not help some women with immune problems
5. UCLA, Caltech research on immune-cell therapy could strengthen promising melanoma treatment
6. Immune Therapy Shows Early Promise for Advanced Leukemia
7. Study reveals potential immune benefits of vitamin D supplements in healthy individuals
8. Delgado Protocol Announces Adrenal DMG, An Amazing New Supplement Designed to Support the Immune, Circulatory and Cardiovascular Systems
9. Evidence supports blocking immune response to enhance viral therapy against solid tumors
10. Football Injuries May Trigger Harmful Immune System Response
11. Tumors deliberately create conditions that inhibit bodys best immune response
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Immune Cell Discovery May One Day Lead to Herpes Vaccine: Study
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... Lizzie’s Lice Pickers just ... is offering customers 10% off of their purchase of lice treatment product. In addition, ... price. According to a company spokesperson. “Finding lice is a sure way to ruin ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... Intellitec Solutions announced today that ... (MSDSLUG). Recognized as Microsoft’s official group for end users of Dynamics SL ERP ... partners, industry experts and representatives. Intellitec Solutions’ membership status demonstrates their ongoing commitment ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... Chicago, IL (PRWEB) , ... November 27, 2015 ... ... some of the largest, most successful and prominent nonprofit healthcare organizations in the ... and governance involvement with various organizations, and helped advance the healthcare industry as ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... NV (PRWEB) , ... November 26, 2015 , ... Inevitably ... strategy. Many customers choose to buy during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday ... Shoppers don’t need to search the Internet high and low to find the best ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... (PRWEB) , ... November 26, 2015 , ... PRMA Plastic ... November 19, 2015, our surgeons performed their 6,000th free flap breast reconstruction surgery! , ... wake up every day excited to rebuild lives and it’s an honor to have ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/26/2015)... November 26, 2015 ... "Self Administration of High Viscosity Drugs" report ... has announced the addition of the "Self ... their offering. --> Research and Markets ... the "Self Administration of High Viscosity Drugs" ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... , November 26, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... announced the addition of the  "2016 ... the European Cell Surface Marker Testing ... Opportunities"  report to their offering.  ... the addition of the  "2016 Future ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... , Nov. 25, 2015  Amgen (NASDAQ: ... License Application (BLA) with the United States ... ABP 501, a biosimilar candidate to Humira ® ... biosimilar application submitted to the FDA and represents Amgen,s ... Sean E. Harper , M.D., executive vice president ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: