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Herpes: The Latest Medical Breakthroughs

Wednesday, 09 Feb 2011 03:48 PM

There are several types of herpes virus that affect humans. Herpes zoster is also known as zoster, shingles, or zona and causes painful skin rashes with blisters on the body. It is caused usually by the varicella zoster virus. The presently used drugs for the treatment of the disorder are valacyclovir, acyclovir, prednisone, and famciclovir.

Herpes simplex is another viral disorder which occurs because of the infection caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV) type 1 and type 2. HSV 1 causes oral herpes, also known as cold sores, which has symptoms like fever blisters that infect the face and mouth. HSV 2 usually causes genital herpes, and is one of the most common forms of herpes virus infection.

Breakthroughs in herpes research include:
  • Studies on herpes transmission: A study has been conducted to show the way in which herpes infection mechanism to the cornea works, and their evading methods with the immune cells. The study has been published in the Journal of Cell Biology and explains the unusual strategy used by the herpes virus for infecting the cornea cells. It also explains the evading mechanism used by the herpes virus against the immune system cells. The virus infects the first layer of cornea to reach the inner layer and the stroma and this makes the disease more difficult to treat.
  • Vaccine from herpes virus: A researcher at Saint Louis University has hopes to design a vaccine from the protein part of the herpes virus which will help the body to stimulate the immune response against the virus. The virus can spread from people with non-visible symptoms to healthy people who will in turn show the symptoms. The vaccine may be developed as the first ever vaccine against the prevention of a sexually transmitted disease.
  • Help for cancer research from herpes infection: Another breakthrough in herpes virus research has been from a German biotech company which announced the positive results of a study aimed at designing a genetically engineered herpes virus to kill cancer cells. The advantageous point is the non-harmful nature of these genetically engineered herpes viruses towards healthy cells. The clinical trials conducted showed positive signs for herpes virus induction, which one day could become an important addition to regular cancer treatments.

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