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First Therapeutic Vaccine for Genital Herpes Reduces Signs of Infection for One Year

A therapeutic vaccine for genital herpes has the potential to reduce viral activity as well as decrease the number of days of recurrent herpes, as observed in a phase II clinical trial.

A therapeutic vaccine for genital herpes has the potential to reduce viral activity as well as decrease the number of days of recurrent herpes, as observed in a phase II clinical trial.

In a press conference on June 19, 2016, Kenneth Fife, MD, PhD, professor of medicine in the Department of Medicine, Department of Microbiology, and Department of Pathology at Indiana University, School of Medicine, announced that GEN-003, a three-injection immunotherapy, recruits T-cells to control the virus, as well as stimulates antibodies to neutralize herpes for up to one year.

Speaking with Contagion, Dr. Fife discussed current antiviral treatments in comparison to the novel therapy developed by his team.

Dr. Fife presented his team’s research at the ASM Microbe 2016 Conference, in Boston, Massachusetts. Their clinical trial included 310 participants known to have chronic, recurrent genital herpes. The patients were injected with six different doses of the three injections, 21 days apart. Over the course of one year, patients were tested for signs of body response to the herpes virus, whether through visible signs of viral shedding, lesions, or immune response to the virus. The frequency of observable signs of the virus significantly decreased after treatment with GEN-003, while immune response data is still under analysis.

Dr. Fife explained GEN-003’s functions to Contagion.

The only treatments currently available to those who suffer from genital herpes consist of antiviral medications aimed at treating and limiting acute lesion outbreaks and reducing the risk of sexually transmitting herpes simplex 2 (HSV-2). In the future, GEN-003 will be tested as a combination therapy with antiviral medications.