A new vaccine is being developed that may offer a potential way to cure painful cold sores and shingles.
Scientists may have found a new treatment for herpes that can flush the virus out from the body altogether.
Last year, researchers discovered a mysterious gene carried by the herpes simplex-1 virus, that allows the virus to hide away in the nerves it infects.
By using pieces of genetic material known as microRNAs, it may be possible to wake up the virus then kill it with standard antiviral drugs like acyclovir, explained Jennifer Lin Umbach of Duke University in North Carolina, who worked on the study.
“We are trying to go into animal trials,” she added.
Herpes simplex 1(HSV-1) causes cold sores while herpes simplex-2 (HSV-2) causes genital herpes. Once infected, the virus buries itself in nerve cells where remains permanently, causing periodic outbreaks.
Although acyclovir can reduce symptoms, it does so only when the virus is active.
There have other promising vaccines over the recent years. In 2000, researchers developed a vaccine that protected women from HSV-2. But the vaccine did not work on women who had been infected with HSV-1, and it offered no protection for men.
The Duke team has collaborated with Regulus Therapeutics LLC, a company that specializes in micrRNA, to continue research into the new vaccine.
Lin’s team found that a gene called LAT controls the microRNAs responsible for turning off other genes in the virus.