More people suffer with herpes in theUnited Statesthan many other diseases that get a lot more attention. Some research indicates that as many as 50 million Americans now suffer with genital herpes; with many more falling victim to other strains of the disease. This has created a real need for a vaccine to help thwart the progression of this highly contagious disease. Plus, imagine the financial implications for the pharmaceutical company that is first capable of releasing a vaccine among the general population!
Why Finding a Vaccine for Herpes Is So Difficult
Researchers worldwide have been working tirelessly to find a vaccine for herpes for decades. While some have come close to success, most human trials fail for even the most promising vaccination. Even so, there are a few vaccines available inEuropethat are being used to help those with the disease shorten the amounts and severities of their outbreaks.
So, why has it been so difficult for researchers to find a vaccine for herpes – especially genital herpes? There are several reasons for this. First, no one knows for sure what part of the immune system actually produces the herpes virus. This knowledge is the key to finding a vaccine that works. Why? Because to make a vaccine, scientists must find the product in the immune system that can naturally kill it and then support that product. This can either be an antibody found in the blood or other bodily fluid, or certain white blood cells that can be used to attack the virus.
The immune system is a very complicated system in the body, using many different parts to attack and kill a variety of diseases. Until scientists can isolate the exact protein which the body uses to kill off herpes, finding a vaccine will remain difficult; if not impossible.
Secondly, scientists have no idea if a vaccine is even possible when it comes to fighting herpes. The herpes virus works a bit differently than other viruses do. By attacking nerve cells in the skin, it can travel up the dendrites of the nerves directly into the spinal column where it can then bond with the human DNA found inside the nerve cells there. By setting up a permanent home there it can begin to produce viral particles that can be released from time to time, causing recurrent outbreaks of the disease.
In order for a vaccine to work, it is imperative that the immune system be able to kill it before it gets into the nerve tissues of a non-infected person. Whether or not this is even possible remains a mystery within the scientific community, but researchers are doing all they can to figure out the parameters of a vaccine and how it would work.
What About the Vaccines Already Being Used in Europe?
If you have done any amount of research into herpes vaccines at all, then you know that several varieties have been introduced throughoutEuropein the last 20 years. Some have shown minimal success, but none have shown evidence of a real preventative cure for the disease. In most cases, the vaccines have been able to generate a strong immune responses within its recipients, which has shown to successfully reduce the number of herpes flare-ups. But none of the vaccines used to date has shown any real protection against getting the disease in the first place.
The Future of the Herpes Vaccine Research
Although the vaccinations produced thus far in other parts of the world have been able to help victims reduce their attacks, there is some evidence that DNA vaccines being used for other illness protection may be useful in finding a herpes vaccine. By injecting DNA into the body, the immune system may be able to start producing more antibodies to fight herpes infection. Still in the discovery phase, this type of DNA vaccination for herpes seems to show the most promise for the future and is being tested on animals right now. The experts expect human trials to begin within 2-3 years.
In the meantime, drug manufacturers worldwide are scrambling to be the first to release a winning herpes vaccination. With billions of dollars in profits at stake, it is no wonder that this type of vaccination alone has created so much interest. That is good news for the millions of herpes sufferers out there who fear transmitting their disease to their partners. Once a true herpes vaccine is found, partners can once again relax and enjoy their time together without the fear of a herpes transmission.