Herpes is a virus that has been around for centuries, and unfortunately, there is no cure for it. Antiviral medications can help reduce the severity and frequency of symptoms, but they cannot completely eliminate the infection. Herpes can affect any part of the body, but it usually appears on the mouth or genitals. It is important to practice safe sex and ask all recent sexual partners if they have or may have oral or genital herpes.
The herpes virus can cause cold sores, genital herpes, and even fatal infections in newborns, encephalitis, and corneal blindness. In the past, researchers have managed to damage the genes of 2-4% of the herpes virus in infected mice. Home remedies such as petroleum gel or essential oils may help ease the discomfort caused by herpes lesions, but they won't reduce the viral load. Latent herpes viruses hide in groups of nerve cells called ganglia, and some nodes are harder to reach than others.
Medications have come a long way in helping to suppress herpes and it is possible that a cure may be found in the future. A team at the Baker Institute for Animal Health has identified a new mechanism that plays a role in controlling how the herpes virus alternates between latent and active stages of infection. The severity of the virus varies over the lifespan of an infected person. If someone has never had herpes but then has oral and genital sex with an infected partner, they can get infected on both sites.
Taking a small dose of anti-herpetic medicines every day can reduce outbreaks by more than 90%. In a recent study, researchers demonstrated that chromatin dynamics regulate whether the entire herpes virus genome is activated before any individual gene can be expressed. Several clinical trials have been conducted to investigate vaccines against herpes infection, but there is currently no vaccine available on the market. Once someone contracts any form of herpes virus infection, they will have it for life, whether they have symptoms or not.
Hidden herpes viruses can be disabled by an injection that tracks infected nerve cells and induces them to produce special enzymes that cut genes like molecular scissors to cut viral genes in specific locations.