A cure for the highly infectious virus herpes could be ‘on the horizon’, experts have said. The virus which stays with people for life causes painful blisters on the genitals and the surrounding areas, and because it can be passed to others through sexual contact, it is often referred to as a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
One of the most difficult aspects of living with herpes is the knowledge that it stays with you throughout your life time. While there are many ways to treat the symptoms of the herpes simplex virus (HSV), there are no established cures for it yet.
Herpes can affect any mucous membrane or moist lining in the body, such as the mouth where the virus breaks out as cold sores. While it is widely believed that the virus is incurable, with severity being alleviated by anti-viral drugs, some US researchers have revealed there could soon be a ‘functional cure’ or vaccination against the virus.
Herpes is one of those virus that is just amazing at tricking and evading our immune system. It can lay dormant, with people who are immunologically healthy. Some researchers found that HSV produces a pair of proteins that shields it and are particularly adept at keeping the human immune system from producing antibodies (the proteins that would normally learn to recognize and combat an infection).
Research, Treatment and Vaccine for Herpes
The advent of research and improving technology has helped experts to have gotten potential cure for herpes. This development comes with better and promising treatment of existing herpes infections, and experimental vaccines to prevent outbreaks and recurrences. Let’s take a look at some of these medications:
Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, addressed the process of viral cell penetration in a rather complex study. They discovered what they call the “key” to viral penetration, and now believe they understand how to stop it from occurring.
These researchers identified one molecule, Akt, as providing the critical signal that starts the infection process, and they stated that by inhibiting the body’s production of Akt, they were able to significantly reduce herpes infections in human cells, exposed to the virus.
This experimental vaccine focuses on viral shedding as the crucial function to suppress the herpes infection. HerpV has shown some real promise in Phase 1 and 2 of studies, where patients in these studies experienced a 15% reduction in viral shedding, and took no additional antiviral medications. Even though patients in the trial received injections of the vaccine, HerpV is slated to be an over-the-counter medical product, indicating that, if approved, it will be available without a prescription.
Early clinical trials for a vaccine currently called GEN-003 gave a very interesting result. This vaccine also resulted in a positive reductions in viral shedding, where shedding was reduced by as much as 50% in some cases. Subsequent reports from Genocea, the company that is making the vaccine, also indicate significant improvement in the immune response of “T-cells”, which are known to help us fight off various diseases and infections.
Researchers are also taking some approach to combatting the herpes virus’ ability to reactivate and recur over time. This study seeks to keep the virus dormant and thereby eliminate the possibility of recurring infection. By using a specially created RNA enzyme called a hammerhead ribozyme, the researchers were able to keep the virus dormant, and unable to reactivate in test animals.
If this approach works equally well for humans, then this gene therapy will keep the virus from causing repeated recurring herpes outbreaks, and will provide an alternative to fixing the virus outbreak issues.
Targeting MicroRNA to Suppress Dormant Virus “Awakening”
At Duke University, several studies have focused on the herpes virus’ ability to stay dormant in the body for longer periods of time, and then comes back alive. Since most current treatments only applies when the virus is active, the virus are able to evade most medications.
The mechanism of action for this research into a viable herpes treatment, according to the researchers, will be in learning how to use single strands of RNA, which they called microRNA, to awake the dormant virus, exposing and making them vulnerable to antiviral drugs.
Pritelivir is a new antiviral drug that attacks the HSV early in the replication process. It has shown some great initial results, and that is good news for several reasons:
- Firstly, test subjects taking pritelivir has shown to experienced dramatically less viral shedding than the control group in the study.
- Also pritelivir is active even in non-infected cells as well as those already infected.
- Additionally, since this drug works differently than antivirals that are already in use, it may provide a weapon against viruses that are already drug-resistant.
- It is also possible that pritelivir could be used in combination with current drugs to deliver a powerful approach to combating HSV.
Alternative Treatment for Herpes
The following under listed products are the most popular natural treatments for herpes:
- Bee Propolis
- Black Tea Tannins
- Licorice Root
- Monolaurin (Lauricidin)
- Melissa Officinalis (Lemon Balm)
- Aloe Vera
- Epsom Salt Bath
- Applying Baking Soda
Antiviral drugs such as acyclovir and famciclovir are most often prescribed in the treatment of herpes today. While they effectively suppress the symptoms of an active herpes outbreak, the medications do little to nothing in inhibiting viral shedding. Also, they are only effective in treating cells that are already infected with the virus.
While the future for a complete cure for herpesinfection looks extremely bright, those who are already dealing with the herpes infection understand the importance of staying in the present, for which there are two main approaches to managing the HSV infection:
- Medical treatment with anti-viral prescription drugs such as acyclovir, famciclovir, or valacyclovir,
- Natural remedies.
Finally, it is worth noting that many of these natural remedies have proven to be highly effective when used to heal herpes sores and decrease the severity and frequency of herpes outbreaks.