Herpes Vaccine, Is There One?

Herpes vaccine candidates remain in various clinical studies in 2019

couple sitting on the edge of an iceberg

There is extensive herpes vaccine research and development is expected to continue over the next few years. This assumption is because analysts are forecasting a substantial, unfulfilled consumer market demand.

But, there is an absence of a preventive and therapeutic herpes vaccine in the market today. 

‘However, few clinical studies have shown promising results for the prevention and treatment of herpes viruses. Therefore, a robust pipeline is expected to propel global herpes simplex virus (HSV) vaccines market growth over the forecast period,’ said Business Intelligence in a press release on August 12, 2019.

Worldwide pharmaceutical giants such as GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Sanofi Pasteur have herpes vaccines in various clinical development phases.

  • GSK’s vaccine SB208141 completed phase III studies in 2009, which started in 2003. GSK carried out several other clinical trial studies on the same vaccine, considering various different parameters and formulations (with or without monophosphoryl lipid adjuvant [MPL]).
  • Sanofi Pasteur's vaccine HSV529 for HSV-2 is in phase I clinical trial study which started in 2015 and completed in 2018. 

As do smaller firms, such as Genocea Biosciences, Inc. and Vical, Inc.

  • Vical's VCL-HB01 phase I study started in September 2016 and completed in December 2018.  
  • Genocea Biosciences, Inc. vaccine GEN-003 was in a phase II study which started in November 2015 and completed in May 2017. The company also carried out various trial studies with the same vaccine by using an adjuvant Matrix-M2.

The herpes simplex virus (HSV) is known for causing herpes infection. There are 2 types of herpes simplex virus, type 1 (HSV-1) and type 2 (HSV-2).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2015 HSV-1 prevalence was 47.8 percent while HSV-2 was 11.9 percent in the USA.

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HSV-1 is oral herpes causing sores around lips and mouth (fever blisters or cold sores), while HSV-2 is genital herpes, wherein sores are found around genitals and rectum, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

HSV-1 is a very common and extremely contagious infection, often occurring around the mouth, known as orolabial, oral-labial, or oral-facial herpes. The probability of reoccurrence of HSV-1 is less frequent than that of HSV-2. 

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Herpes simplex virus (HSV-2) is the most common sexually transmitted virus causing genital herpes (GH) and also a highly contagious infection. HSV-2 infection is long-lasting and incurable. And, carries a risk for patients getting a human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection.

Herpes vaccine news

Recently, a study by researchers at Kings College team found that their vaccination strategy marshals a platoon of immune cells, called innate lymphoid cells (ILC1) and monocytes, in the genital tissues to work together and release chemicals (chemokines) to send out a call to the CD8 T-cells generated by the vaccine to troop into the genital tissue.

Lead author, Professor Linda Klavinskis from King's College London said: "This study highlights how specialized groups of 'innate' immune cells in distant tissues can be harnessed to attract protective CD8 T-cells, arming the body's frontline tissues from infection.

Until there is an approved herpes vaccine, there are antiviral medications make it less likely that you will spread herpes to a sex partner. 

There are 3 major medications in pill form commonly used to treat genital herpes symptoms: acyclovir (Zovirax);  famciclovir (Famvir); valacyclovir (Valtrex).

These medications can shorten a herpes outbreak by a day or two, provided you take them within 24 hours of the first signs of an outbreak. Taken daily, these drugs can also reduce the number of recurrences and decrease viral shedding.

According to research published on April 8th, 2019, women who frequently used a preventive vaginal gel Tenofovir significantly reduced their risk of acquiring genital herpes. Tenofovir, a nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitor, is approved in its oral formulation for the treatment of human immunodeficiency virus infection and Hepatitis B. 

These medications are available at most pharmacies, and co-pay coupons can easily be found at Discounts. 

The CDC says if you have additional questions about how herpes is spread, treated, and prevented, discuss your concerns with a healthcare provider.