Without a great deal of success, researchers have spent years trying to discover how to stimulate the body to produce antibodies that fight gD-2, the protein that the herpes simplex virus type 2 , or HSV-2, uses to enter human cells. If they could figure out a way to trigger these antibodies, scientists believed they could create a herpes vaccine that prevented the virus from entering cells and causing the disease. As it turns out, however, gD-2 might only be responsible for opening the door to let in the real culprits of the disease.
Researchers in New York at Yeshiva University’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine decided to remove the gene for gD-2 from the herpes virus, to see what happened. By removing gD-2, it makes the virus unable to enter cells and cause the disease. What they discovered, however, was that the body started producing other antibodies to fight the other components of the virus. When they isolated these antibodies and created an experimental vaccine, they were able to prevent lab mice from getting the original herpes virus. It appears that gD-2 was acting as somewhat of a Trojan horse, hiding the proteins that really caused herpes from the body’s immune system.
Experimental Herpes Vaccine
The team published the results of a recent trial using the experimental vaccine with lab mice. They introduced the herpes virus into two sets of mice: those that were vaccinated with the experimental herpes vaccine, and those that were unprotected. All of the unprotected mice developed herpes, while none of the herpes-vaccinated mice developed the disease or had any evidence of latent herpes hiding in their tissues. The researchers also found that the blood serum from mice vaccinated with the experimental herpes vaccine was able to protect mice that were not vaccinated for herpes.
In addition to being effective, the experimental herpes vaccine appears to be safe. The Einstein team calculated how much of the herpes virus would be needed to kill a mouse and administered 1,000 times that amount of the herpes virus to mice that were vaccinated but otherwise had no immune system to fight off an infection. None of the mice developed the disease.
Anonymous Herpes Testing
There are more than 500 million people around the world who suffer from genital herpes caused by HSV-2, and those who have genital herpes are much more likely to acquire and transmit HIV. Scientists are hopeful that this most recent success will lead to a human herpes vaccine that could begin trials in about two years.
Until a herpes vaccine is developed, it’s important to get tested regularly for the herpes virus, HIV and other sexually-transmitted diseases. However, if you test positive for herpes or another STD, your doctor is required by law to report your name and other information about you to the state health department. Don’t let the fear of being reported prevent you from getting tested and getting treated for herpes or another sexually-transmitted disease. Follow our free guide to anonymous testing for sexually-transmitted diseases, get tested and get the treatment you need.