- HSV-2 is a lifelong, incurable infection that causes recurrent and painful genital sores and increases susceptibility to HIV. Current estimates suggest that 500 million people worldwide are infected with HSV-2, with approximately 20 million new cases occurring annually.
- Most prior attempts to construct a herpes vaccine have focused on a glycoprotein called gD that is embedded in the virus’s outer envelope. This protein is required for the microbe to enter into and out of cells and to spread from cell-to-cell. gD also elicits a vigorous antibody response that many in the field believe is necessary to produce immunity. However, no gD-based vaccine has proven effective.
- As part of a separate ongoing study of the signaling pathway that the herpes virus uses to enter cells, Herold asked Jacobs’s lab to engineer a mutant with gD deleted. The vaccine completely immunized two common strains of lab mice against HSV-2 when challenged with virus intravaginally or on the skin.
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