The vaccine, which uses a protein produced by the type 2 herpes virus together with a substance which stimulates the immune system, has been developed by researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy in Gothenburg.
The research team vaccinated a sample of mice and were able to trace the infection – the first time this has been achieved with the herpes virus. The study found that somewhere between the mucous membrane and the spinal ganglion the infection lost its virility.
“We found the genome of the virus in the spinal cord, but no viable virus particles. We do not know where on the path from the mucous membrane to the nerve cell that it has lost its ability to cause disease,” said Staffan Görander at the Sahlgrenska Academy to the newspaper.
It is hoped that further research will enable the new vaccine to provide protection against the most common form of genital herpes which is caused by the herpes simplex virus, with type 2 being the most common.
Around 500 million people are infected with genital herpes, which is transferred sexually and substantially increases the risk of being infected with HIV. There is currently no vaccine against the disease.