A University of Queensland spin-off company is about to start clinical trials that could result in the prevention and treatment of genital herpes, a virus that affects hundreds of thousands of people, threatens newborn babies and is believed to contribute to the development of HIV.
Coridon Pty Ltd will soon start a Phase I HSV-2 vaccine clinical trial in Brisbane.
Professor Ian Frazer said the new technology could eventually prevent and cure the herpes simplex virus (HSV-2), and could also lead to other effective vaccinations for incurable diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C.
Professor Frazer, CEO and Director of Research at Brisbane’s Translational Research Institute (TRI) and lead researcher at The University of Queensland Diamantina Institute (UQDI), is leading development of the vaccine.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates more than half a billion people aged 15–49 years are living with HSV-2 worldwide.
“HSV-2 genital herpes affects up to one in eight Australians, and there is currently no curative treatment,” Professor Frazer said.
“The vaccine technology offers the potential of being both a preventative and therapeutic vaccine.
The vaccine will be injected into the forearms of 20 healthy volunteers in a trial designed to demonstrate its safety and how well it is tolerated, and to determine the effective dose and show that it generates a robust immune response.
Professor Frazer said HSV-2 was the major cause of genital herpes.
“The virus causes pain and discomfort, and can have serious health implications for babies born to infected women,” he said.
“Herpes is also believed to aid in the transmission of HIV.
“Current herpes treatment involves the use of antiviral drugs which can reduce, but not eliminate, outbreaks and shedding but do not prevent spread of the disease.
“This is the beginning of an exciting period for our herpes vaccine,” Professor Frazer said.
“We have seen very encouraging results from animal studies and we expect pivotal data showing that our vaccine, which incorporates our patented optimisation technology, to produce similar immune responses in the clinic.”
The Phase I clinical trial will be undertaken through Q-Pharm Pty Ltd’s clinical trial site at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.
Getting closer! *crosses fingers*
URG, I WISH.
According to the lead scientist at Harvard, Dr. Judy Lieberman, the siRNA “could either be administered to a person already infected to reduce viral shedding, pain, and transmission to a sexual partner, or it could be administered to those who are not infected to protect them.” However, before using the microbicide on humans, tests will first need to be done on monkeys.
Not sure I’d call that a cure, but rock on, scientists.
"We were shocked to find that so many coral viruses were in the herpes family," Vega-Thurber said. "But corals are one of the oldest animal life forms, evolving around 500 million years ago, and herpes is a very old family of viruses that can infect almost every kind of animal. Herpes and corals may have evolved together."