Herpes Vaccine Research

149 Herpes Vaccine Research with alexandra harbushka blog

The double-edged sword with creating a herpes vaccine

This vaccine is one of the most sought out vaccines and it would help millions of people throughout the world. Not to mention on the business side of things how it would monetarily reward the people or company who solved the puzzle. But here’s the deal, as of now there’s no research happening for the herpes vaccine. 

If you feel like the wind’s been taken out of your sails go watch or read the other episode about waiting for the herpes cure. I promise, having herpes is NOT the end of the world! 

According to an article published by Healthline, pharmaceutical companies are taking a break from the research. I’ll breakdown what the article has to say. You can also check it out for yourself. 

The pharm companies have a double edged sword when it comes to herpes. There are two-thirds of the world population living with herpes and they would really benefit from a vaccine. This means there’s clearly a need but the problem lies in the nature of the viruses. It’s a very complicated virus and so, therefore, it will take multiple millions of dollars to perform the research and clinical trials.  

At this point, there's been nobody close to the finish line. In fact, the three companies were close to the clinical trial phase and they all three backed out and are now focusing on something different. So to break it down, there’s no clinical trial going on right now working towards a vaccine for herpes.

Bummer, right?

And I’m sure you’re thinking how is it possible that there’s been research going on for years and millions of dollars spent how’s it possible to have nothing. I mean we have vaccines for HPV, Measles, Mumps, Hepatitis, Chicken Pox, and the list goes on so why is Herpes such a medical enigma. 

Well here’s the deal. The virus is very complex. It’s not like other viruses that have a short incubation period and a person typically sees signs of infection rather soon upon being infected. 

According to Dr. William Schaffner, chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee The herpes virus is very different from the measles virus, for example,” said Schaffner. He explains the measles virus makes you sick in a relatively short period of time. Our immune system reacts quickly to it and is ready for the virus again should it appear in the future.

When it comes to being infected with herpes the virus doesn’t always show up. It has its own agenda. When you’re initially infected the virus can lie dormant for months and even years or it can pop up. And then recurring outbreaks are hit and miss, there’s no concrete timeline and the virus just pops up when it wants. 

Also according to Dr. William, the herpes virus’s DNA is more complicated than the average virus. It’s because it goes dormant in our immune system similar to how many cancer cells do.  And because vaccines work by stimulating the human immune system it makes it difficult to inoculate for herpes. Basically, the target keeps moving and they don’t know where to aim. 

With the herpes virus being super complicated it makes the researcher difficult and very expensive. One of the companies that made it to the phase II clinical trial last year was Genocea Biosciences working on the GEN-003 herpes vaccine. They said they made a lot of progress but they cut the funding for the phase III funding and decided to focus on cancer research.

So there you have it! There have been some great attempts to create a vaccine and finding a solution to the gift that keeps on giving. My personal opinion is that there will be someone who finds the funding and put the right team together to find a vaccine. The thing is we just don’t know when it will be. Until then, don’t hold your breath and don’t get caught up in the negative thoughts of being diagnosed with herpes. Like I always say, it’s just a skin disease and that’s it. It pops up here and there but really its nothing worse than having a bad pimple on prom. 

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