When The Government Fails Science The Internet Is There To Help
Harvey Friedman is one of the worlds leading herpes researchers. In recent years especially, his lab at the University of Pennsylvania has garnered fanfare in both the medical world and popular press for its work on a first-of-its-kind genital herpes vaccine. This new protective treatment has shown astounding potential in animal tests, and Friedman and his team will move on to early stage human trials in the near future. But despite his profile, and the apparent promise of his big vaccine research project, like most scientists, Friedman finds himself in constant need of cash.
One of Friedmans key funding sources is grants from the National Institutes of Health theyve provided about $500,000 in annual direct support for his vaccine project since 2019. And you can do a lot with that, he told InsideHook, but it has to support a lot of people and supplies.
Government funding can also dry up rapidly, thanks to changing political winds. So even with steady state funding, researchers often cant meet their ideal budgets, and may as such have to work much slower, or at a smaller scale, than theyd like. They also run the constant risk of going into total progress paralysis if a once-reliable grant suddenly shrinks or dries up entirely.
What If We Could Finally Cure Herpes This Scientist Is On The Case
Robert Hood / Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
In May 2020, the World Health Organization estimated that around half a billion people worldwide are living with genital herpes, and several billion have oral herpes. While there are antiviral medications available to help reduce symptoms, there is no cure.
Recently, a paper published in the science journal Nature Communications reported that a team of researchers was able to eliminate over 90 percent of latent herpes simplex virus, which causes oral and genital herpes, in mice. Curing mice is a long way from curing humans, but its still an exciting step.To better understand how researchers were able to achieve this success and whether it holds the same promise for humans in the future, we spoke with one of the studys authors, Keith Jerome, M.D., Ph.D., a physician and medical researcher on the faculty at the University of Washington, in the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
Slicing And Dicing On A Molecular Level: Meganuclease And Crispr
Wilder: The article you published with your colleagues discusses the cutting enzymeits called meganuclease?
Jerome: Thats right.
Wilder: What exactly is meganuclease? Has it been used in any other kind of research, or is it something your team is pioneering?
Jerome: Meganucleases are essentially a fancy name for the molecular scissors that we use to locate the virus. They recognize a specific type of DNAin this case, 20 letters of DNA.The letters have to be in the perfect order the perfect combination. If the meganuclease sees the 20 letters in exactly the right order, it will make a cut in the DNA. Thats what we use to destroy the herpes.
Meganucleases have been around a very long time they actually evolved in yeast. Weve come to appreciate their biology over the last 20 years or so, and theyve been used for gene editing purposes for over a decade. Thats why we got into this.
Part of the reason you dont hear about meganucleases now is that, to some degree, theyve been sort of replaced by the CRISPR system. One of the things that we deal with, with any type of molecular scissorswhether its CRISPR or the meganucleases: You have to change it so that it will recognize the 20 letters in the right order.
The proteins that evolve naturally in yeast dont have anything to do with herpes. So we need to change the letters that theyre looking for. For a meganuclease, its quite a difficult process that can take months. For CRISPR, you can actually do that overnight.
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The Science Behind The Hunt For A Herpes Cure
Wilder: I read that you started thinking up a possible cure for herpes around 10 years ago.
Jerome: Well, that was when I first became aware of what today has become an area of research that we call gene editing. A lot of your readers may have heard of a particular type of gene editing protein called CRISPR. Its made a lot of news over the past two or three years — including the lay press, not just the scientific literature. But, actually, CRISPR is only one type of protein for gene editing. There are other types, as well.
When I first became aware of that, I realized that gene editing proteins have the unique capability of very specifically looking for the DNAthe stuff of lifeof, in this case, a virus, and ignore everything else. I realized that gene editing proteins could actually find an infectionwhether it was HIV, herpes, or hepatitis Bdestroy that DNA, and leave the rest of the body alone.
Remember that these sleeping viruses that I mentioned are long-lived forms of DNA within the body. So if we could destroy the viruses in a very selective manner, we might have a possibility to think about cure.
Wilder: As you mentioned, the current drugs that are prescribed dont get rid of the latent virus. What is it about this virus that makes it so challenging to eliminate?
Jerome: Once the virus goes to sleep in the nerve cells, it coils itself up into a little circle. In a lot of ways, that little circle looks a lot like our own DNA.
Why You Should Go To A Sexual Health Clinic
You can see a GP, but they’ll probably refer you to a sexual health clinic if they think you might have genital herpes.
Sexual health clinics treat problems with the genitals and urine system.
Many sexual health clinics offer a walk-in service, where you do not need an appointment.
They’ll often get test results quicker than GP practices and you do not have to pay a prescription fee for treatment.
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Will They Ever Find A Herpes Cure
Herpes, the painful skin blisters, that once acquired, are with you for the rest of your life! Its definitely not the best news and it can be emotionally and physically devastating. Having the virus is something that can be lived with but precautions need to be taken to prevent or minimize further outbreaks. As of this date there is no cure, and its doubtful that they will ever find a herpes cure, but there are many things you can do to control outbreaks and prevent spreading the disease to others.
There are three types of herpes virus that are the most common:
Herpes simplex type 1 is the typical cold sore variety that normally breaks out on the lips, mouth and face, although the virus can break out on the fingers, or in the eye causing pink eye or conjunctivitis. The virus can also extend into the brain causing encephalitis or inflammation of the brain. The virus does spread by contact, either the sore or the fluid contained in the sore are highly contagious, although the virus can spread without any visible signs of a sore. It used to be thought that a person had to have an active case of herpes, but it was found not to be true. This virus can also cause genital herpes.
Basically the top recommendations and the closest thing to a herpes cure:
Eat a healthy diet, avoiding sugar, chemical sweeteners and alcohol. They suppress the immune system!
Support Fred Hutch Research
The Jerome Labâs herpes research thus far involves only HSV-1, but the scientists are now working on ways to extend their success to HSV-2. The first step will be to repeat their experiments using HSV-2 in guinea pigs, which, unlike mice, experience natural reactivations of herpes virus infections, just as humans do.
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Will There Ever Be A Herpes Cure
There are conflicting views on whether there will be a herpes cure or not, but since it infects so many people worldwide, researchers and scientists must create a herpes vaccine.
To find a treatment for the virus, the scientist first needs to understand the mechanism that enables the virus to hide in the nerve cells and go dormant for months or years. By tackling this problem, they might be able to kill the infection before it hides away.
In late 2020 and early 2021, while exploring the new genital herpes treatments, scientists came up with microbicides, which are chemicals that protect against infections caused by viruses, by killing microbes, before they enter the body. Studies have shown that this may be able to cure herpes and is considered a herpes vaccine progress in the last few years. Although this new revelation seems promising, there have been mixed results.
Treatment Options For Genital Herpes
Head into your doctors office, use an online pharmacy, or check your medicine cabinet for these effective genital herpes antiviral medications.
Acyclovir is an antiviral medication that treats infections caused by the herpes simplex virus, including genital herpes. You might recognize Acyclovir by its brand names like Zovirax, Cymex Ultra, and Virasorb.
Its best to start taking Acyclovir as soon as you notice the first signs of an emerging outbreak. This medication stops the herpes virus from growing and spreading during an outbreak, although it cannot remove the virus from your body completely. Most people experience relief within just a few days of taking Acyclovir for genital herpes.
Valacyclovir, also known as Valtrex, is Food and Drug Administration approved to treat genital herpes. This antiviral drug interferes with the DNA replication of the herpes virus for an even longer duration of time than acyclovir. As a result, you can take Valacyclovir less frequently and still enjoy consistent results.
NSAIDS For Pain Relief
Genital herpes outbreaks can cause days or even weeks of discomfort. Fortunately, you probably already have pain relief options sitting in your medicine cabinet. Aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen are all formulated to reduce the inflammation that causes so much pain during outbreaks.
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Herpes Treatment: Taiwanese And Chinese Companies Team Up To Work On Long
By NewsDesk @bactiman63
United BioPharma announced this week that Shanghai Public Health Clinical Centre and Cheng Kung Universitys Department of Microbiology and Immunology have joined United BioPharmas fight against the global herpes endemic. Together with United BioPharma, the two institutions will test the effectiveness of UB-621, a best-in-class long-acting treatment for genital herpes caused by simplex viruses 1 and 2 in preparation for phase II trials in the United States and China.
The latest additions to the partnership will work with existing partners to test the neutralizing activity of UB-621 to the HSV clinical isolates in mainland China and Taiwan.
Data from our initial trials suggest that UB-621 is not only a best-in-class treatment but a potential game-changer for billions of patients suffering from herpes worldwide Testing on clinical isolates will help confirm whether UB-621 can work well against herpes strains, especially those that have already shown to be resistant to currently marketed drugs, said Dr. Shugene, Lin, President of United BioPharma.
We know UB-621 can neutralize over 40 HSV isolates from Asia, the United States and Germany. With Cheng Kung University and the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Centres support, we hope to demonstrate further the capability of UB-621 as we move to phase two trials, added Dr. Shugene, Lin, President of United BioPharma.
Herpes: the silent pandemic affecting 90% of the global population
A Workhorse Of Gene Therapy
The researchers also refined their methods of transporting the molecular scissors to targeted nerve cells. From the beginning, Jerome and his team have relied on a harmless, hollowed-out virus that is drawn to the surface proteins of nerve cells. Called an adeno-associated virus vector, or AAV, it is the little workhorse of gene therapy. In this case, it is used to ferry to the infected nerve cells genetic instructions that cause them to make those meganucleases.
âWe inject the AAV vector, and it finds its way,â Aubert said.
Latent herpes viruses lurk in clusters of nerve cells called ganglia, and researchers have found that some ganglia are harder to reach than others. Over the years, they discovered that some AAV strains are better suited than others to find specific types of nerve clusters, and this has helped them fine-tune the selection of these delivery viruses to match infected cells in different places.
In their mouse experiments, the team continued to improve their results, nudging them up to a 95% reduction in herpesvirus infection in one prominent nerve cluster using a selection of two different meganucleases carried by three different flavors of AAVs. By selecting vectors that are primed for harder-to-reach nerve clusters, the group expects to continue improving their ability to eradicate the virus.
Stoddard is also tweaking the meganucleasesâ structures to make them a better fit against HSV-2.
Aubert said that comes naturally to her.
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How Do I Know If I Have Genital Herpes
Most people who have genital herpes have no symptoms, or have very mild symptoms. You may not notice mild symptoms or you may mistake them for another skin condition, such as a pimple or ingrown hair. Because of this, most people who have herpes do not know it.
Herpes sores usually appear as one or more blisters on or around the genitals, rectum or mouth. The blisters break and leave painful sores that may take a week or more to heal. These symptoms are sometimes called having an outbreak. The first time someone has an outbreak they may also have flu-like symptoms such as fever, body aches, or swollen glands.
People who experience an initial outbreak of herpes can have repeated outbreaks, especially if they are infected with HSV-2. Repeat outbreaks are usually shorter and less severe than the first outbreak. Although the infection stays in the body for the rest of your life, the number of outbreaks may decrease over time.
You should be examined by your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms or if your partner has an STD or symptoms of an STD. STD symptoms can include an unusual sore, a smelly genital discharge, burning when urinating, or bleeding between periods.
How Does Genital Herpes Spread
Herpes can be spread when an infected person has lesions blisters and open sores on their body or when you do not have any symptoms. Taking antiviral medicine can help you reduce the risk of spreading genital herpes to your sexual partners. You can also:
- Inform your sexual partner that you have genital herpes.
- Use a condom every time you have sex.
- Refrain from having sex when you have symptoms.
- Abstain from performing oral sex if you have blisters or open sores around your mouth.
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A Cure For Herpes There Is Progress To Report
It takes a persistent scientist to stop a persistent virus.
A decade ago, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center virologist Dr. Keith Jerome began exploring the idea that lifelong infections with herpes viruses might be cured by using the DNA-cutting tools of gene therapy.
Initial research showed these techniques could knock out small quantities of latent virus, and the work of improving the results fell to Jeromeâs senior staff scientist, Dr. Martine Aubert. Five years ago, the team reported they had damaged the genes of 2%-4% of herpes virus in infected mice. Aubertâs work was an important proof of principle, but far short of a cure.
Nevertheless, she persisted.
On Aug. 18, the team led by Jerome and Aubert published a paper in Nature Communications showing that, through a series of incremental improvements on their original method, they had destroyed up to 95% of herpes virus lurking in certain nerve clusters of mice.
âThis is the first time that anybody has been able to go in and actually eliminate most of herpes in a body,â said Jerome, who is also spearheading research at Fred Hutch and the University of Washington on COVID-19. âIt is a completely different approach to herpes therapy than anybodyâs ever had before.â
Will There Be A Cure For Herpes
There may be a cure for herpes in the future but it is difficult to say when this could be. Some companies are focusing on a vaccination, which could prevent an outbreak or be given to people who have not yet caught herpes.
There are also tests being done in genetic engineering, which involves trying to affect the DNA of the herpes virus in your system. This could stop it from multiplying and causing outbreaks but research is still inconclusive.
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Official Websites Of Herpa Greens & Herpesyl
- Herpesyl Official Website :
The recently reported study tested the two different herpes vaccine candidates RVx201 and RVx202 by administering them to guinea pigs either vaginally or intradermally. After a 28-day observation period, the researchers found that neither herpes vaccine candidate established latency in the guinea pigs. They also found that all of the guinea pigs survived to the end of the study without developing any HSV-2 related disease or adverse reactions. The study concludes that the two novel herpes vaccine candidates are safe in guinea pigs and hence should be tested for efficacy as a preventative and/or therapeutic herpes vaccine against genital herpes.
The lead author of the group, Jonathan Joyce, said that the results are encouraging and validate the need for continued testing and development of live-attenuated herpes vaccine candidates, which according to him, are historically underdeveloped herpes vaccine types for the treatment and prevention of genital herpes.
Billions Worldwide Living With Herpes
About half a billion people worldwide are living with genital herpes, and several billion have an oral herpes infection, new estimates show, highlighting the need to improve awareness and scale up services to prevent and treat herpes.
About 13% of the worlds population aged 15 to 49 years were living with herpes simplex virus type 2 infection in 2016, the latest year for which data is available. HSV-2 is almost exclusively sexually transmitted, causing genital herpes. Infection can lead to recurring, often painful, genital sores in up to a third of people infected.
Herpes simplex virus type 1 is mainly transmitted by oral to oral contact to cause oral herpes infection sometimes leading to painful sores in or around the mouth . However, HSV-1 can also be transmitted to the genital area through oral sex, causing genital herpes.
Around 67% of the worlds population aged 0 to 49 had HSV-1 infection in 2016 an estimated 3.7 billion people. Most of these infections were oral however, between 122 million to 192 million people were estimated to have genital HSV-1infection.
Genital herpes is a substantial health concern worldwide beyond the potential pain and discomfort suffered by people living with the infection, the associated social consequences can have a profound effect on sexual and reproductivehealth says Dr Ian Askew, Director of the Department of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research at the World Health Organization .
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