We are now one step closer to having the first ever vaccine for genital herpes.

Last week, BlueWillow Biologics announced the issuance of a US patent number for the development of their intranasal herpes simplex virus (HSV) vaccine, which puts them one step closer towards conducting human trials.

The patent protects the use of the pharmaceutical company’s unique NanoVax adjuvant platform in the development of a vaccine that provides protection against HSV-1 and HSV-2, the two viruses that can cause genital herpes.

The intranasal NanoVax platform elicits both mucosal and systemic immunity through its novel oil-in-water nanoemulsion adjuvant, offering a unique advantage to combat sexually transmitted infections including genital herpes. The mucosal immunity elicited by intranasal NE vaccines provides critical protection against infections at the port of entry by which a pathogen enters the body.

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The vaccine has demonstrated safety and efficacy in both prophylactic and therapeutic animal models for genital herpes. In a prophylactic guinea pig study, the intranasal vaccine prevented genital herpes infection in 92% of animals vaccinated. The vaccine also reduced recurrent lesions and viral shedding by more than 50% in therapeutic study animals previously infected with genital herpes compared to the animals who received no treatment.

More than one in six people aged 14 to 49 are infected with genital herpes and an estimated 776,000 new infections occur annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Genital herpes increases a person’s risk of contracting HIV and can lead to miscarriage and premature birth in infected pregnant women. Herpes can also be passed from the mother to child during birth, potentially resulting in neonatal herpes, a fatal infection. Most genital herpes vaccine candidates have failed or been abandoned in recent years, leaving no reliable therapeutic or preventive vaccine for the disease.

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“Genital herpes is easily and often unknowingly transmitted between partners. The lifelong infection frequently causes psychological distress and negatively impacts quality of life,” said Dr. Ali Fattom, Senior Vice President of Vaccine Research and Development at BlueWillow.

“After years of research in animals, we are moving closer to studies in humans where we expect results to validate the potential of this much-needed vaccine,” he added.

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