The drug, called GEN-003, may reduce both virus activity and the number of days with recurrent herpes in patients. The treatment is given in a series of three injections and appears to last for up to one year, the investigators said.
“GEN-003 is believed to work through a different pathway from most vaccines by recruiting T cells, which are critical to controlling chronic infections such as herpes,” said Dr. Fife, MD, PhD, an investigator and Professor of Medicine at Indiana University. In addition, GEN-003 is also designed to stimulate antibodies to help neutralize the virus.
310 participants with a history of chronic, recurrent genital herpes received three shots of one of six different vaccine doses, 21 days apart. Over 1 year, participants were tested for stimulation of the immune system against the herpes virus, the frequency that the herpes virus was detectable on the skin around the genital area (“viral shedding”), and the number of days that herpes outbreaks (“lesions”) were visible. GEN-003 treatment drove significant reductions in the rate of viral shedding and lesion frequency compared to rates before treatment. Immune response data are being analyzed and will be the topic of a future presentation.
GEN-003 may provide relief similar to that available with daily antiviral medications, but with improved convenience. “GEN-003 is expected to be tested in combination with antiviral medications to potentially provide a level of relief not currently achievable.