Why has herpes not been cured?

Herpes is difficult to cure due to the nature of the virus. HSV infection can hide in a person's nerve cells for long periods of time before returning and reactivating the infection. Advances in herpes cure research over the past five years are largely due to a series of improvements in gene-editing tools. First, the researchers added combinations of different gene-cutting enzymes.

The more cuts these molecular scissors make, the harder it will be for the virus to recover. Antiviral treatments can reduce outbreaks of genital herpes, but they are not a cure. There is no cure for herpes. Antiviral medications, such as acyclovir, famciclovir, and valacyclovir, may help reduce the severity and frequency of symptoms, but they cannot cure the infection.

Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV) is mainly transmitted by oral contact and causes an oral herpes infection, sometimes causing painful sores in or around the mouth (“cold sores”). In their experiments with mice, the team continued to improve their results, managing to reduce herpesvirus infection in a prominent group of nerves by up to 95% by selecting two different meganucleases carried by three different flavors of AAV. Latent herpes viruses hide in groups of nerve cells called ganglia, and researchers have found that some nodes are harder to reach than others. Genital herpes is a major health problem worldwide: beyond the possible pain and discomfort experienced by people living with the infection, the associated social consequences can have a profound effect on sexual and reproductive health, says Dr.

Ian Askew, director of the Department of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research of the World Health Organization (WHO). Most researchers have focused on when and how individual genes in the herpes virus genome are turned on and off during infection to find out how the virus changes between the latent and lytic stages. According to new estimates, around 500 million people worldwide are living with genital herpes and several billion have an oral herpes infection, underlining the need to improve awareness and expand services to prevent and treat herpes. Five years ago, the team reported that they had damaged the genes of 2% to 4% of the herpes virus in infected mice.

Billions of people around the world are living with herpes infections, prompting the World Health Organization to request a vaccine against the incurable virus. A vaccine that protects against both strains of herpes has been quite a challenge, because the virus has managed to evade the immune system very well, said Charles Rinaldo, professor and director of the department of infectious diseases and microbiology at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. From the early days of the experiments, Jerome's team learned to use a cutting enzyme called “meganuclease” that can concentrate on a segment of herpes DNA and cut both chains of the double helix. As the Jerome Laboratory prepares to see if its gene therapy can block genital herpes, it is also reorganizing its selection of vector viruses and meganucleases to attack nerve cells infected with HSV-2.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has sparked an unprecedented race to develop a vaccine that protects against coronavirus, researchers have been trying to create a vaccine to prevent herpes for at least four decades. It will still be a long time before these experiments lead to the first human trials of gene therapy to cure herpes. Keith Jerome began to explore the idea that lifelong herpes virus infections could be cured by using gene therapy tools to cut DNA. The ability of herpes to go unnoticed has thwarted efforts to create effective vaccines or antiviral drugs that prevent or completely cure the infection.

According to the World Health Organization, two-thirds of the world's population under 50 are carriers of the herpes simplex virus type 1, or HSV-1, which mainly causes cold sores, while 491 million people between the ages of 15 and 49 are infected with HSV-2, which is the cause of sexually transmitted genital herpes. . .