Treatment for herpes may include antiviral medications such as acyclovir or valacyclovir. While these medications can help reduce the symptoms and infectiousness of the virus, there is currently no cure for herpes. However, research is being conducted to explore the possibility of using gene therapy tools to cut DNA and potentially cure lifelong herpes virus infections. Keith Jerome began to explore this idea, and estimates that there are at least three years to go before the first human trials of gene therapy to cure herpes can take place.
In Jerome Lab's experiments, a cutting enzyme called “meganuclease” is used to concentrate on a segment of herpes DNA and cut both chains of the double helix. The team reported that they had damaged the genes of 2% to 4% of the herpes virus in infected mice. The World Health Organization estimates that 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. HSV-2 and HSV-1 are transmitted through contact with a herpetic lesion, mucosal surface, or genital or oral secretions from an infected person.
Some home remedies, such as petroleum gel or essential oils, may ease the discomfort caused by herpes lesions, but they won't help reduce viral load. Pregnant women with symptoms of genital herpes should see a doctor, as there is a risk of neonatal herpes. Potential participants most interested in a herpes vaccine may already be infected, but the vaccine is not yet being studied for treatment. Harvey M. explains that research on the herpes mRNA vaccine began long before COVID-19 mRNA vaccines were developed.
Everyone would like research to move forward as quickly as possible, but it can't match the speed of mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 because herpes isn't as pervasive as the coronavirus. The team solved that problem with a drug that stimulates the recurrence of herpes simplex type 1, or HSV-1, in mice. Jerome Lab's herpes research only includes HSV-1 at this time, but scientists are now working to expand its success to HSV-2.Other manifestations of HSV-1 infection are the whitish herpetic ulcer, the gladiatory herpes seen in wrestlers, perpetic eczema in patients with atopic dermatitis, and erythema multiforme. Daily use of antiviral medications can prevent or shorten outbreaks and reduce your chance of infecting it to others. While there is no cure for herpes yet, research is ongoing and scientists are hopeful that gene therapy tools may one day lead to a cure.