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Research shows progress toward a genital herpes vaccine
Date:1/4/2012

part of the National Institutes of Health, along with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), and conducted at 50 sites in the U.S. and Canada.

The study enrolled 8,323 women between ages 18 and 30 who did not have HSV-1 or HSV-2 infection at the start of the study. They were randomly assigned to receive either three doses of the investigational HSV vaccine that was developed by GSK or a hepatitis A vaccine, which was the control.

Participants were followed for 20 months and evaluated carefully for occurrence of genital herpes disease. In addition, all study participants were given blood tests to determine if asymptomatic infection with HSV-1 or HSV-2 occurred during the trial. Researchers found that two or three doses of the investigational vaccine offered significant protection against genital herpes disease caused by HSV-1. However the vaccine did not protect women from genital disease caused by HSV-2.

"We were surprised by these findings," said Belshe, who also is a professor of infectious diseases and immunology at Saint Louis University School of Medicine. "We didn't expect the herpes vaccine to protect against one type of herpes simplex virus and not another. We also found it surprising that HSV-1 was a more common cause of genital disease than was HSV-2."

HSV-1 infection has become an increasingly common cause of genital disease, likely because more couples are engaging in oral sex. HSV-1 and HSV-2 are spread by direct contact mouth to mouth, mouth to genitals and genitals to genitals even when the infected person shows no symptoms, Belshe added.

Researchers are conducting laboratory tests on serum obtained from study participants as they continue to study why the vaccine protected women from genital disease caused by HSV-1 and not HSV-2.

One hypothesis, Belshe said, is HSV-1 is more easily killed by antibodies than is HSV-2. This means that the vaccine antibodies might work better against HSV-1 and result in prote
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Contact: Nancy Solomon
solomonn@slu.edu
314-977-8017
Saint Louis University
Source:Eurekalert

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