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Home » Herpes Vaccine Draws Nearer

Herpes Vaccine Draws Nearer

Long awaited but not yet here, the race is still on for the world’s first ever genital herpes vaccine. Genocea, Agenus and Vical, are currently the three main biotechs in the States trying to develop this much needed vaccination. Australia’s Admedus are boasting good results from early clinical trials of their version of the vaccine and Tomegavax, also in the States, is hot on the heals of a discovery with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. But who will win the race? And when are we likely to have a viable product on the market? Currently, when genital herpes is contracted, it stays in the system for life and recurrent outbreaks can be experienced often and are painful and irritating. Genital herpes is an extremely common sexually transmitted infection (STIs) and a vaccination would go a long way in putting a stop to its spread. Many who are infected don’t even know they have it.

At the moment, these giants of the pharmaceutical industry are trying to develop a vaccine for patients who already suffer from the virus but ultimately, the desire is to discover a preventative vaccination. Other companies have tried and failed but now companies understand the virus better and how they can manipulate it. You can read more about the progress here.

Until now, companies have worked on vaccines that are antibody based and focus on B cell responses, but to no avail. Now, these companies are instead working towards a vaccine that will act on the immune system’s T cells too. Without getting too technical, it is thought that with this addition, these defender cells will have the best chance of killing off the thus impenetrable virus. All of the companies in the race are on phase II of their journeys and things are looking good so far with positive results being reported from all corners.

For now, Aciclovir is the best treatment for herpes and is available on prescription only. It lessens both the severity of the symptoms and the period of time symptoms are experienced. It also shortens the period of time a patient is contagious, the shedding phase. This is good news for one of the most common STIs today. The prophylactic vaccination is a while off yet but maybe not as far off as we have, up until recently, thought. Watch this space for regular updates on the herpes vaccination and the latest news from impending trials.

Getting tested for herpes is normally done when the patient is symptomatic and swab is taken from the lesions. It is also possible to have blood tests for herpes but this only shows that you have the antibodies and is not site-specific. There are blood tests that can tell the difference between HSV1 and HSV2 but again, this is not site-specific. It is not advisable to see your GP for a herpes blood test as it is unlikely that this service will be offered. The test can be done privately at The STI Clinic but they do counsel against this test and suggest a symptomatic lesion test, which can be done at a GUM clinic or online when symptomatic.

To find your local GUM clinic for free services, please see this website.