SATURDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2016

NIAID launches genital herpes vaccine trial

Scientists funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases launched an early-stage clinical trial of an investigational genital herpes vaccine, the National Institutes of Health announced on Friday.

The trial will test an investigational herpes simplex virus type II vaccine candidate called HSV529 for safety and its ability to generate an immune response. The replication-defective vaccine, a type of vaccine created by removing key proteins from the virus so it cannot cause the disease, was developed by David Knipe, a professor of microbiology at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

"Although genital herpes is treatable, it is a lifelong infection that can exact a substantial psychological and physical toll on infected individuals and places them at higher risk of acquiring HIV," Anthony Fauci, the director of the NIAID, said. "Furthermore, mothers with active genital herpes infection at time of delivery can transmit the virus to their newborns, which can lead to severe illness and death. A protective vaccine would help to reduce significantly the spread of this all-too-common sexually transmitted infection."

The vaccine will be tested on approximately 60 adults between the ages of 18 and 40. The study is expected to be completed by October 2016.

Genital herpes is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the U.S. and there is no vaccine to prevent infections with genital herpes. Most cases of genital herpes are caused by infection with HSV-2. An estimated 776,000 people in the U.S. are infected with HSV-1 or HSV-2 annually.

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