Herpes Research

Jan 18, 2012 No Comments by

Neither genital nor oral herpes have a cure. They are treatable and there is research being done to provide more treatment options for herpes, and to find a cure for these two types of viral infections.

Herpes infections are hard to treat and do research on for a cure, because the virus hides in nerve cells and lies dormant for non-specific periods of time. When the viral infection is latent it is effectively invisible to not only the immune system, but to the drugs trying to eradicate the disease. During outbreaks a part of the infection will become active, causing a flare up. But again part of the virus stays hidden in the nerve cells making it impossible for any treatment to fully cure the disease.

Duke University Research on Herpes

Current research on herpes includes a discovery by researchers at Duke University of a piece of the viral genome that codes the proteins enabling HSV-1 or the oral herpes virus, hide through dormant periods. This might enable scientists to create a drug to switch off the latent breaks so that the virus is forced out of hiding and can be eradicated by an antiviral treatment or some other drug.

While this type of treatment might create a severe flare up in order bring the virus out of hiding, finding an opportunity to completely rid the body of herpes and eradicate the disease would be a positive step. While steps have been taken, it can take years for a cure to be developed and approved for humans. But this research step for a cure for herpes gives sufferers hope that someday they may have curative options along with the suppressive therapy.

Harvard University Research on Herpes

In studies done on mice, research scientists at Harvard have found a new way to protect them against HSV-2 or the genital herpes virus. Herpes simplex virus 2 can be a co-factor for AIDS transmission. It is believed that if scientists can find a way to protect against genital herpes they could also help guard humans from getting AIDS. Again the research is a first step and it may be years before we see something that is approved for human treatment or inoculation against genital herpes or AIDS.

These studies utilize siRNA and RNAi. The terms siRNA means small interfering RNA. RNA is ribonucleic acid, which is similar to DNA. RNA has many duties within the cell including transcribing information found in the DNA. The siRNA compounds have the ability to suppress the activity of some disease-causing genes. This ability has been labeled RNAi, which stands for RNA interference. This siRNA is what has been found to protect the mice from herpes simplex type 2.

It is believed that siRNA could be given to someone who doesn’t have genital herpes to protect them from the disease, and to those who have genital herpes to reduce the pain, the amount of viral shedding, and the risk of giving genital herpes to a partner.

RNAi-based drugs are seriously being considered and tested for HSV-2 infections, and for their ability to protect against other diseases like AIDS, flu, hepatitis, malaria and more.

Statistics show that while about twenty percent of the United States adult population has been infected with HSV-2, the numbers in Africa reflect that about eighty percent of its population has been infected. If you have HSV-2 or genital herpes this means that you have three times the risk of being infected with HIV, or AIDS, than someone who doesn’t have genital herpes.

This is because HSV-2 erodes and inflames layers of skin both in and around the genitals. These skin layers provide a barrier to the AIDS virus. When genital herpes weakens this natural barrier, it is easier to transmit the virus that causes AIDS. So finding something that keeps humans from getting genital herpes could ultimately decrease AIDS transmission.

Other Herpes Research

There are many other research studies and clinical trials being done on finding both a cure for herpes and to find better treatments for the disease.

There are several studies being done on the effects of resveratrol on herpes. So far this research has determined that the natural substance known as resveratrol can inhibit replication of the herpes simplex virus. Resveratrol cream has also been found to inhibit or reduce HSV replication in the vagina of mice, and that it limits extravaginal disease.

For more information on the study of resveratrol and herpes, see here.


Herpes research is ongoing and is being done in the leading institutions both in the United States and in other areas of the world. There are many exiting things being discovered and tested that may make a big impact on finding a cure for this currently incurable disease. It might be years before this research culminates in treatments, but there is progress being made.


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