Developing the herpes vaccine
An Australian scientist is attempting to beat a disease that has blighted rich and poor alike for thousands of years… herpes.
Professor Ian Frazer, the man behind the much-lauded cervical cancer vaccination, has developed a vaccine for the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV2), the virus responsible for most cases of genital herpes.
Trials have shown promising results in 95% of those taking part and it is hoped that this could finally be the solution to herpes that has eluded scientists for so long.
Genital herpes is an incurable sexually transmitted infection. Bouts of the infection can be treated, but it will most likely return after a few months. There is currently no sure-fire way of protecting yourself against herpes, although wearing a condom does help.
However, Professor Ian Frazer’s trial has so far consisted of just 20 participants so there is a long way to go yet. A spokesman for the company supporting Professor Frazer’s endeavours, Admedus, said they hoped to put the vaccine through a Phase II clinical study later this year.
For those already infected with the herpes virus, Professor Frazer’s trial will be of little help, as he is developing a vaccine to help prevent infection with herpes, rather than a treatment for those already infected.
A cure for HPV
Professor Frazer’s cervical cancer vaccinations, Cervarix and Gardasil, which he developed in the 90s, are now in widespread use. They work by providing immunity to two forms of the human papililomavirus (HPV) which cause most cases of cervical cancer.
However, these vaccines are usually only effective if they are given before a woman becomes sexually active. HPV is so common, that any woman who is already sexually active will probably be infected already, although only a small proportion will actually develop cervical cancer.
But now Professor Frazer is looking to develop a treatment for women who are already infected with HPV.
The Australian scientist is not quite at the Phase I stage yet, but it is hoped that an effective treatment won’t be too far off.