Is There Ever Going to be a Herpes Cure?

Herpes is a widespread disease with no cure yet. Learn more about current treatments and potential cures for this virus.

Is There Ever Going to be a Herpes Cure?

Like the common cold, herpes is a widespread disease with no cure. People infected with the herpes virus are infected for life and have no choice but to manage outbreaks when they occur and expect less frequent outbreaks in the future. HSV causes herpes and can affect the mouth or genitals. There is currently no cure for the virus, but there are treatments that can reduce the symptoms and infectiousness of the disease.

Medications have come a long way in helping to suppress herpes and it is possible that it can be cured in the future. Keith Jerome began to explore the idea that lifelong herpes virus infections could be cured by using gene therapy tools to cut DNA. Hidden herpes viruses are disabled by an injection that tracks infected nerve cells and induces them to produce special enzymes that cut genes, which work like molecular scissors, to cut viral genes in specific locations. Jerome estimates that there are at least three years to go before these experiments lead to the first human trials of gene therapy to cure herpes.

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 the closely related HSV-2, which is the cause of sexually transmitted genital herpes. So far, Jerome's Laboratory's herpes research only includes HSV-1, but scientists are working to expand its success to HSV-2.Clinical trials are currently underway with a new drug called pritelivir as a treatment for herpes symptoms. Herpes rash outbreaks usually affect the mouth or genitals, but they can appear anywhere on the body. Most people with herpes don't show symptoms, but the infection can also cause painful sores and blisters.

Researchers have conducted several clinical trials to investigate vaccines against herpes infection, but there is currently no vaccine available on the market. Herpes can hide in nerve cells for a long time before becoming active, making it difficult to find a cure. However, there is currently no vaccine that can help prevent the spread of herpes, so a person should use appropriate protection and precautions when having sex with other people. Latent herpes viruses hide in groups of nerve cells called ganglia, and researchers have found that some nodes are harder to reach than others.

The team achieved its first promising results years ago with a single type of meganuclease that proved effective in cutting the DNA of the herpes virus, but the results were short-lived. 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. If a person contracts any form of herpes virus infection, they will have it for life, whether they have symptoms or not.