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Manipulating the Immune System to Fight Genital Herpes


Kenneth Fife, MD, PhD, Professor of Medicine at Indiana University, School of Medicine, discusses manipulating the immune system to fight genital herpes.

Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability)

“The immunologic stimulation is critical to allow the body to control the virus that’s already there. The person already has the virus in the body, hiding out in nerve cells, and we know that the immune system attempts to control the virus, but in fact, in many cases, it’s not very effective and the virus still manages to grow.

What we’ve been able to do is identify a way in which the body’s immune system, specifically the cellular immune system, the T-cells, can be stimulated to increase their effectiveness in blocking the application of the virus and allowing the body to control it better.

There are always concerns when you try to manipulate the immune system. And so, one of the things that we are doing in the context of this study, is trying to make sure that we don’t cause harm in other ways. For example, it’s always concerning when you stimulate the immune system that you might trigger some type of autoimmune response where the body responds against itself. We are testing specifically for these kinds of responses. So far, in the studies that have been conducted to date, with, granted, smaller numbers of individuals, we’ve yet to see any kinds of these responses, but it is something that we are vigilant or concerned about.”
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