USA – Genital herpes vaccine candidate heads for human studies

Follows decades of failed R&D into sexually-transmitted infection. Hopes that a vaccine against genital herpes may finally be on the horizon after decades of failed R&D have been rekindled by a new candidate heading for clinical trials.

The vaccine – developed by a team led by University of Pennsylvania researcher Harvey Friedman – has been shown in preclinical studies to have completely prevented genital lesions in mice and guinea pig models of the infection.

Genital herpes is an incurable, contagious sexually-transmitted infection caused by Herpes simplex virus-2 (HSV-2) that causes a lifetime of painful outbreaks. While symptoms can be managed with antiviral drugs, patients tend to suffer recurrent outbreaks, in some cases several times a year.

The virus is spread when patients have symptoms, so a key goal is to prevent outbreaks occurring. Worldwide genital herpes affects a massive 400 million people, and it’s widely held that an effective vaccine would become a blockbuster product for its developer…