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Study finds genetic link to human herpes susceptibility
Date:1/28/2008

(SALT LAKE CITY) Theres a high probability that people who are prone to herpes simplex virus (HSV) outbreaks can inherit that susceptibility through their genes, University of Utah researchers report in a new study.

In the Feb. 1 issue of The Journal of Infectious Diseases, the researchers identify a region on the long arm of human chromosome 21 with high oddsat least 1,000-to-1of being linked to cold sore susceptibility. The researchers further say they pinpointed six specific genes in that chromosomal region as candidates for making people prone to outbreaks of cold sores (also called fever blisters). Cold sores occur when the herpes virus reactivates from its quiescent state within the nerve, infecting the lip, nose, or face.

Discovery of the probable link could lead to the development of new drugs that reduce the frequency of herpes outbreaks, according to John D. Kriesel, M.D., the studys corresponding author and research associate professor in the U School of Medicines Division of Infectious Diseases.

One or more of these genes might make excellent targets for new drugs to reduce the number of herpes outbreaks, Kriesel said. Maurine R. Hobbs, Ph.D., research assistant professor in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, is the studys first author.

The study is available online now.

There are two types of the herpes simplex virus. Type 1 (HSV-1) is responsible for the vast majority of cold sores, the most common recurring viral infection in humans, as well as herpes keratits, an eye infection that can lead to corneal scarring and blindness. The majority of the U.S. population is infected with HSV-1, although millions of people manifest no symptoms. Nonetheless, at least 40 percent of the population will experience at least one cold sore at some point during their lives.

Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) is the primary cause of genital herpes, and infects an estimated 17 percent of the U.S
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Contact: Phil Sahm
psahm@hsc.utah.edu
801-581-2517
University of Utah Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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