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Where Are the New Herpes Vaccines and How Do They Work?

Green hand with a syringe and a black background. from: PWCD - vaccines.

SCIENCE

Written by: Milburn Mcclain and m.wilson

Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center In Seattle

A massive breakthrough in Herpes medicine occurred several years ago in 2013 when the Frank Hutch Cancer Research Institute discovered an agent called cytotoxic T cells (CD8aa) – also referred to as “Killer T-Cells” found to suppress Herpes within the body. CD8aa is a natural anti-viral that fights different types of herpes viruses like HSV-2 around the clock as part of the normal immune response. The Frank Hutch group is responsible for a number of important recent discoveries and last year in 2020, it published the results of their genetic scissors technique (altering the Herpes DNA), which damages the virus at the root, curing latent Herpes infection at a rate of 90%.

A vaccine (or protective HSV) has occupied scientists for years, and the discovery of the Killer T-Cell – CD8aa fundamentally changed the scientific understanding of Herpes – both in regards to its behavior pertaining to dormancy, for example, and the body’s own defensive mechanisms. Meanwhile, the concept and existence of T cells themselves, which vary slightly from the antibody function, are ‘sweeping the nation’ in general as other T cell killers are reported. Antibodies prevent illnesses and are kind of like police meant to neutralize viruses, holding them at bay. On the other hand, CD4 and CD8 T cells, for instance, work similarly on Covid-19, eliminating infected cells, alerting antibodies, and remembering that virus for the next time. Messenger RNA vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna evoke strong responses in T cells, a relationship that should help create more longer-lasting vaccines (and for variants).

90% Of The World Population Has A Strain Of Herpes

Many child/adolescent and other diseases like mono, chickenpox, tonsillitis, meningitis, encephalitis, etc., are herpes viruses. Herpes is one of those core viruses that mutate into their own versions of diseases, even cancer, and often become drug-resistant. 40 years ago, and up to the 1980’s, cervical cancer used to be the top killing cancer in women. The rate has decreased since then, as pap smears are now more focused on the HPV cancers – and not just those random ‘abnormal looking’ cells. Today cervical cancer is known essentially as the progression of an STD, as HPV is found to cause 90% of anal and cervical cancers and 60% of penile cancers (men are more prone to HPV cancers occurring in the back of the throat and in the anus. Harald zur Hausen won the Nobel prize in 2008 for his discovery of the HPV – cancer connection, which he began researching in the 1970’s.

Arguably the simplex strains (simple/single) may have fewer potential complications, where the main threat might be the demand imposed on the immune system – (immunological economy), which is already burdened by the constant battle with other harmful microbiology entering the body through the air, food, and other inroads from the outside environment to the internal human environment – making it more generally susceptible. According to WHO, 60%-90% of those with HIV have herpes 2.

HSV Becoming the World’s Most Prevalent Sexually Transmitted Disease

  • Affects billions of people all over the world.
  • At least 2/3 of the human population are infected with at least one “Simplex” strain.
  • 90% of humans are infected with an HPV.
  • 44% of women in Africa have Herpes 2 and 25% of men.

Homo Erectus – No Pun Intended

In 2014 the San Diego University School of Medicine reported that Herpes started out as an animal disease in ancient chimpanzees and was contracted by Homo Erectus 1.6 million years ago. According to the latest data, this would make Herpes at least one million years older than SARS COV-2, and may explain why it is more prevalent. Origin tracking facilitates the viral sequencing of diseases – understanding their adaptive diversification and how this will differ in various geographic regions for vaccination purposes – making it possible to predict how viruses will mutate and then, plan for those booster shots. The university was able to conduct this valuable research due to several grants it received, including those from the Department of Veterans Affairs, National Institutes of Health, and several others.

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Some Of The Candidates

There are numerous candidates in various stages of development. Some are therapeutic (designed to cut viral shedding in those infected with herpes), while others are preventive.

  • Delta gD-2 Vaccine – X-Vax Technology is working on the Delta gD-2 vaccine, which will end the herpes virus and prevent latency; FDA is involved. Latency causes the virus to become dormant in the nerve tissue, resulting in a life-long infection.
  • HSV529 – also known as HSV15, replication-defective virus explicitly created to treat HSV-2. It uses a genetically altered mutant virus to prevent HSV from replicating.
  • IDX-12 – is a prophylactic (preventative) and therapeutic vaccine for HSV-1 and HSV-2. It is currently undergoing preclinical testing for safety and efficacy.
  • GSK4108771A – an HSV-2 intramuscular vaccine, currently in phase 1 human clinical study – (dose level testing). Set to complete August 9, 2022.
  • R2 Vaccine – is a genetically altered form of HSV-1, which cross-protects people from HSV-2. Testing showed that viral shedding had lowered significantly and reduces the chances of passing on the virus.
  • RVx201 and RVx202 – the live attenuated method that defangs the virus and kills its ability to block the immune system – found to be safe in pre-clinical study. Rational Vaccines was awarded with an Innovation Passport – a new British program designed to speed up market and consumer access to new treatments. At the beginning of this year the company announced its core mission to eradicate the world of the virus.

Get Vaccinated

Currently on the market are vaccines for many strains of cancer causing HPV, as well as Shingles (which often begins flaring up after the age of 50), such as Shingrix from GlaxoSmithKline, and are over 90% effective. The WHO recommends vaccinating children for HPV beginning at the age of nine, and vaccination, regular pap smears, and HPV-DNA analysis for adults.

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