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Forum URL: http://herpeshomepage.com/cgi-bin/dcforum/dcboard.cgi
Forum Name: Herpes News
Topic ID: 1163
#0, Research Holds Promise For Herpes Vaccine
Posted by LAGuy on Oct-15-06 at 01:47 PM

Research Holds Promise For Herpes Vaccine
Posted by: Montana State University
on 10-13-2006.

"A study suggests a new avenue for developing a vaccine against genital herpes and other diseases caused by herpes simplex viruses."

Herpes Vaccine

A study by a Montana State University researcher suggests a new avenue for developing a vaccine against genital herpes and other diseases caused by herpes simplex viruses.

In a study published earlier this year in the Virology Journal, MSU virologist William Halford showed that mice vaccinated with a live, genetically-modified herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) showed no signs of disease 30 days after being exposed to a particularly lethal "wild-type" strain of the virus.

In contrast, a second group of mice that received a more conventional vaccine died within six days of being exposed to the same "wild-type" strain.

"We have a clear roadmap for producing an effective live vaccine against genital herpes," said Halford, who works in MSU's Department of Veterinary Molecular Biology. "Although my studies were performed with HSV-1, the implications for HSV-2-induced genital herpes are clear. Overall the two viruses are about 99 percent genetically identical."

An estimated 55 million Americans carry herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), which causes genital herpes. Infection is life-long. Approximately 5 percent of those with genital herpes - 2 million to 3 million Americans - suffer outbreaks one to four times annually. A vaccine offering life-long protection does not exist.

The key to Halford's research was understanding how the herpes simplex virus overcame the body's natural defenses.

A cell infected with the herpes simplex virus sends a warning to neighboring cells. This warning -- an interferon response -- causes neighboring cells to enter "an anti-viral state" akin to putting on a suit of armor, Halford said.

However, herpes produces a protein, ICP0, that tricks every infected cell into destroying its own armor. Once the cell's armor is gone, the virus can propagate itself and spread to other cells, which are in turn tricked into lowering their defenses.

In his research, Halford created a vaccine where the genetic instructions that make ICP0 were disrupted. Without instructions on how to do its clever ICP0 trick, the virus can still establish an infection in animals, but the spread of the virus is stopped long before disease can occur.

"In short, we can disarm the virus such that it is absolutely unable to cause disease, but is still remarkably potent as a vaccine," Halford said.

In a human vaccine, the genetic instructions for ICP0 would actually be removed, creating an "attenuated," or weakened virus. The rest of the herpes simplex virus' genetic code would remain intact. Measles, mumps, rubella, polio and yellow fever vaccines are all made from attenuated viruses.

Research in recent decades has focused on subunit vaccines, which are made from one piece of a virus (a protein subunit). Subunit vaccines are safer than attenuated virus vaccines because the subunit cannot replicate or cause disease. However, subunit vaccines have proven ineffective in protecting people against persistent infections like genital herpes and AIDS, Halford said.

"From a theoretical standpoint, subunit vaccines are poor mimics of a natural virus infection," Halford said. "There's not enough there for our immune systems to build a protective response against the actual virus."

Halford, 38, is aware that his approach is controversial.

"This is where I'm young enough that I don't know how long it can take to swing popular opinion among scientists and clinicians," he said. "I would hope that in five to six years the scientific community would be willing to seriously consider these proposals."

Halford hopes to find a commercial partner or secure government funding to advance his research toward a human vaccine.

"I'd like to take this concept from the chalkboard to the clinics," he said.

#1, RE: Research Holds Promise For Herpes Vaccine
Posted by muffin on Oct-15-06 at 02:15 PM
In response to message #0

This researcher actually posted on HHP this weekend. See the Montana State thread.


"Everybody hurts sometimes.
So hold on...hold on...hold on...hold on.
Everybody hurts. You're not alone." ~ REM

#2, RE: Research Holds Promise For Herpes Vaccine
Posted by LAGuy on Oct-16-06 at 00:13 AM
In response to message #1
Oops, thanks. Missed the other posting. Is this legit?

#3, RE: Research Holds Promise For Herpes Vaccine
Posted by BH on Oct-16-06 at 08:28 AM
In response to message #2

Yes, I am not yanking your chain. See link above. I really do exist, and work on herpes simplex virus. Also, type "Halford WP" into PubMed.....I have been doing this for a while.

- Bill Halford

#4, RE: Research Holds Promise For Herpes Vaccine
Posted by Alternative on Oct-16-06 at 09:40 AM
In response to message #3
That's great news!!!

The only thing that makes me sad.. if everything works fine.. this vaccine will be only available to general public in more than 15 years

#5, RE: Research Holds Promise For Herpes Vaccine
Posted by LAGuy on Oct-16-06 at 09:52 PM
In response to message #3
Brilliant Bill! I'm glad we've got you working on this issue. Are you searching for funding? In all seriousness, assuming all goes as you plan, what do you anticipate the timeline to be from phased testing to trials to approval to commericalization? I think a lot of people in this community are interested in your response.

Keep up the great work and let us know if we can help? And thanks!!

#6, RE: Research Holds Promise For Herpes Vaccine
Posted by BH on Oct-17-06 at 01:01 AM
In response to message #5
Well, the bad news is it may take a little while. But the good news is that this particular approach (i.e., a live vaccine) should actually work, so it should be worth the wait.

FYI, the only effective animal and human herpesvirus vaccines (e.g., chickenpox and shingles) that have ever succeeded were all live vaccines. Life-long infection with the vaccine strain (i.e., life-long boosts to your immune system) seems to be the common denominator for success.

I would assume that provided I can get some money together, two years of R&D would be needed to take me from where I am now to the actual HSV-1 and HSV-2 vaccine strains I want to build and all of the necessary data to talk clinical trials. Basically the steps are:

1. Build the actual, proposed vaccine strains of HSV-1 and HSV-2
2. Test the HSV-1 and HSV-2 vaccine strains in several species of animals for safety and effectiveness (e.g., rabbits and guinea pigs, as well as mice)
3. Proceed to the FDA and ask about the steps required for clinical trials once steps 1 and 2 are complete.

On the HSV-1 side, building the right virus for a vaccine strain should be quick (less than 2 months) because I have all of the tools in hand. On the HSV-2 side, I have to go back to the virus and re-trace the steps I followed with HSV-1 but with HSV-2.... probably 6 to 9 months on that step alone.

I am checking with Montana State University to find out what I can and can't do to collect private and corporate donations for this cause. While there is an arm of the University called the MSU Foundation through which money is donated for specific University-related causes (research, athletics, libraries, etc.), I just need to find out where the lines are drawn to make sure I am not breaking any rules if I set up a website giving people a means to specifically support my herpes vaccine research efforts.

I will certainly let this group know what I find out, and the biggest help anybody could offer me is simply by letting me know ideas on how to get the word out. Each unfunded NIH grant I don't have to write is effectively one month that I am free to get out from behind my computer and do what I was supposedly trained to do....work in the lab and do actual science.....radical idea, isn't it?

As always, thanks to Rajah and everyone here for giving me a place to look for the type of feedback and support that helps me do my job a lot better than I can working in the vacuum of a lab. For those who have been around this website for awhile, you know that this was really critical in helping me focus on learning what doctors-to-be need to hear about herpes when I was teaching at Tulane Med School. I should be getting a similar teaching opportunity at MSU next Spring, so the lessons I learned at the Original HHP are still paying off.

- Bill

#7, RE: Research Holds Promise For Herpes Vaccine
Posted by muffin on Oct-17-06 at 06:54 PM
In response to message #6

Thank you for your responses.

It is my understanding that it may be possible to make a restricted donation to a University, specifying how the donation is to be used. Perhaps this could be done for the benefit of your MSU lab?


#8, RE: Research Holds Promise For Herpes Vaccine
Posted by BH on Oct-18-06 at 08:17 AM
In response to message #7
Hi Muffin,

I am looking into this, and what you said seems to be precisely the case. I am in the process of modifying the website for my lab accordingly to offer people the opportunity to donate, explain how the donation process works, and explain precisely what type of research this money would put towards.....in other words, make clear that this is not just a blank check for my lab, but the money is to be used for a specific purpose.

I am also teaching a class right now, so this requires some juggling, but I hope to have the first version of the website up and running within a week.

The text of the e-mail I received from the CEO of the MSU charitable arm (MSU Foundation) explaining how this works is below.

Thanks for your interest,

Dear Bill-

Thank you for your thoughtful note. The only thing that you would need to do to receive donations is to open an account with the MSU Foundation and direct that all gifts to your research be made to the MSU Foundation and earmarked on the check memo for Halford Herpes Research Fund. Send the checks to MSU Foundation, P.O. Box 172750, Bozeman, MT 59717-2750. Gifts can also be made online at http://www.montana.edu/foundation/give_now.htm and the donor can designate in the “Other” category for Halford Herpes Research Fund. You need to have a gift to open the account and when you do so, you must sign a fund agreement that states how the funds will be used and who has signatory authority on the account. Your dean will have to approve the account and your signatory authority.

Hope this helps.

President and Chief Executive Officer
Montana State University Foundation
1501 South 11th Avenue
Bozeman, MT 59717-2750

-----Original Message-----
From: Halford, William
Sent: Monday, October 16, 2006 2:13 PM
To: Talbott, Connie
Subject: Query regarding individual donations to support a specific research program at MSU
October 16, 2006
Dear Ms. Talbott,
I am a researcher in the Dept. of Vet Molecular Biology, and part of the major thrust of my research lies in devising an effective vaccine against genital herpes. This is currently featured in the MSU website news area at this link:


In the past four days since the story ran, I have received three e-mails to the effect of "Where do I donate to support this research?"

Herpes infections affects a ton of people, and it's a very emotional issue for people with the disease because despite all the advances in medicine in the past 30 years, little help for those who suffer from herpes simplex virus has been provided by NIH-sponsored research. I attend the virology meetings of NIH-funded scientists every year who are supposedly working to cure this disease. Frankly, herpesvirus research has become very esoteric and most of the scientists who do the work seem to have lost sight of the fact that they are squandering time and money while literally several million Americans continue to live with genital herpes or ocular herpes (both potentially debilitating conditions). Given this situation, the "herpes constituency" of the United States is less than pleased with what has been accomplished.

I believe that my research has reached point where I see a clear path to a genital herpes vaccine, and I would really like to consider setting up a website within the auspices of the University for giving herpes sufferers around the world a silent, anonymous way to contribute directly to research that might provide some relief sooner rather than later.

Is it possible that I could meet with you sometime in the next few weeks to discuss the possibility of setting up a "Support herpes vaccine research" website which would provide a means for people to donate to this cause via the MSU Foundation? There have to be some legal issues to consider here......but I don't know what they are, and am hoping you do.

If a small blurb on the MSU website can generate such interest, I really think it is worth considering if we could achieve a bit more through more mainstream lines of communication....an internet website and/or a magazine article or two describing the research and why this new line of research is very promising.

Thank you for considering this request.

Sincerely yours,
Bill Halford

#9, Let me be the first, Bill...
Posted by Rajah on Oct-18-06 at 08:39 AM
In response to message #8
A gift has been sent via that page you linked directed to "Halford Herpes Research Fund". That will get things started. BTW, folks, I would think that this is a tax deductable gift since it's via the MSU Foundation.

"Do the Right Thing. It will gratify some people and astound the rest." - Mark Twain

#10, RE: Let me be the first, Bill...
Posted by Grr. Argh. on Oct-18-06 at 09:23 AM
In response to message #9
This is seriously really amazing, thank you, sir. Speaking as someone with HSV-1, it is encouraging to hear the level of development surrounding a treatment for that virus; usually all the news is focused on treatments that address HSV-2 first. I wish you success in all your work. I will also post a donation.

#11, RE: Let me be the first, Bill...
Posted by Rob on Oct-18-06 at 03:32 PM
In response to message #10
Im not sure if I understand his work completely? Will this benefit people who already have it or is this just a preventive vaccine?

#13, I think it's too early to tell..
Posted by Rajah on Oct-18-06 at 06:26 PM
In response to message #11
To this point it's been tested on mice as a preventative rather than theraputic vaccine.

"Do the Right Thing. It will gratify some people and astound the rest." - Mark Twain

#15, RE: Let me be the first, Bill...
Posted by BH on Oct-18-06 at 08:03 PM
In response to message #11
Great question, which I will address on my website in some detail....under construction, so may take a few days.

For now, a therapeutic vaccine would be great, but it's hard to go from where we are now (no effective vaccine at all) to the ideal of a therapeutic vaccine.

Once it is established that live vaccines (i.e., a real live herpes simplex virus, but missing one critical gene) can be used safely, then I think that opens a lot of possibilities for a therapeutic vaccine. For now, however, I am afraid that the ideal of a therapeutic vaccine is not directly addressed by my approach.

The most obvious use I can think of a genital herpes vaccine, like I am proposing, would be for young kids whose parents are realistic enough to know that their kids will have sex one day and for new prospective partners of those who already have genital herpes and have to go through the whole emotional thing of explaining the facts fictions about this condition. I think a vaccine would make that way easier to deal with.

Great question, but the bottom line is that I won't believe that I have a good approach in mind for a therapeutic vaccine until I figure out a good system to test that idea.

- Bill

P.S. Regarding not understanding the approach, I hope that the updates to my website will answer all those sorts of questions....Hopefully done by next Friday.

#12, RE: Research Holds Promise For Herpes Vaccine
Posted by muffin on Oct-18-06 at 05:48 PM
In response to message #8
I'm glad to see you are making progress on the fundraising front! Please be sure to let us know when your webpage is ready.

It may be worthwhile to have a little fundraising barometer updated periodically to show how much you have collected over time. If people see progress toward a goal they may be more inclined to donate.

Also, I notice the current method of donating appears to require personal information. Please check to see if "HHRF" is entered in the "Other" line that the funds will still make it to you. I'm sure there are many who will hesitate to donate if their name is linked directly to a herpes fund (you know how it is!).

Additionally, on the donation form the donor has the option to have a donation credited in honor of someone else. I do not know if this means that anonymity is preserved or not if the donation will be recorded as a donation on bahalf of the named person/group. Do you know?

Thank you for sharing your progress with us!

#14, RE: Research Holds Promise For Herpes Vaccine
Posted by BH on Oct-18-06 at 07:54 PM
In response to message #12
Hi Muffin,

Wow! Great points to consider. I just launched that page within the last hour or so, so you must have seen it within 10 minutes of launch.

I will look into the anonymity issue, and clarify that on the web page.....great points!

I can talk to the Foundation and make it clear that checks marked HHVF (Halford Herpes Vaccine Fund) are for my research....that's easy.

Regarding the online form, I am pretty sure that the personal information is so that anybody donating can deduct the donation from their income tax.....I don't think anyone wants to miss out on a tax break.
However, point well taken.....I can see where some people might be uneasy submitting a 1040 Schedule A to everyone at the IRS that advertises their donation to the the Herpes Vaccine Foundation.

Thanks for the feedback....a lot of people can smooth something like this out a lot quicker than one person.


#16, RE: Research Holds Promise For Herpes Vaccine
Posted by muffin on Oct-19-06 at 07:53 PM
In response to message #14
LOL Honestly, BH I haven't seen your website yet. These are just things which have come up in prior conversations about creating a herpes fundraising website. But I'm glad we finally have an application for the ideas which were raised!

#17, RE: Research Holds Promise For Herpes Vaccine
Posted by BH on Oct-20-06 at 11:15 AM
In response to message #16
Hi Muffin,

Well, your suggestion was dead on the money, and I changed my website right after I read your comment to make the identifier for the fund less detailed.....Halford HVF instead of Halford Herpes Vaccine Fund.


#18, A thought about anonymous donations...
Posted by Rajah on Oct-20-06 at 11:35 AM
In response to message #16
If people want to donate anonymously, I don't see why we could not use our paypal donation capacity, sorely under used, BTW to forward funds to this. I do want to make it clear that it would not allow the donation to be tax advantaged for the donor, though, since racoon.com isn't a 501-c3 non-profit organization.

Our paypal donation page is at: http://www.racoon.com/fund/

If nobody objects, the $43.00 that was donated to the previous fund will be forwarded to this vaccine fund at MSU.

"Do the Right Thing. It will gratify some people and astound the rest." - Mark Twain

#19, RE: A thought about anonymous donations...
Posted by Ouch on Oct-20-06 at 03:50 PM
In response to message #18
Well, no one really wants the IRS to know that they're making contributions towards herpes research, anyway. The less the government knows about me, the better, IMHO.

(What stigma?)

#20, RE: A thought about anonymous donations...
Posted by auntiejessi on Oct-21-06 at 04:07 PM
In response to message #19
LAST EDITED ON Oct-21-06 AT 04:07 PM (CDST)
I have avoided posting here, but can't help myself now.

I think sometimes we want our cake, and eat it too, and sometimes we can't.

I think we are only contributing to the stigma of herpes by wanting to make sure our donations are anonymous. Do you think the IRS gives one big hooey that you have donated to a herpes research fund? Do you think they have time to care?

And Ouch - this isn't just directed at you, hon. Its the whole point that here we sit complaining about stigma, and complaining that not enough research is being done, yet we get scared to donate because we don't want people to know we have it.

I say this all the time about Sparky's tees, and I will say this now for this - if you donated to a save the whales fund - would people think you are a whale? If you donated to breast cancer research, would people think you had it? And if they did, who cares??


OH and thanks, Bill, for all your work on this!!

#21, RE: A thought about anonymous donations...
Posted by muffin on Oct-21-06 at 08:50 PM
In response to message #20
I understand your point about the stigma, aj. While the stigma is underserved, I think a lot of people who have herpes still have to cope with their own belief in it. With that fear inside, it doesn't surprise me that some would like to avoid being linked to herpes. And not everyone has the personality to brave the world's possible judgement.

The fact is many people want to maintain their anonymity. By letting them maintain anonymity while donating hopefully they will achieve some sort of sense of control over the virus.

#22, RE: A thought about anonymous donations...
Posted by auntiejessi on Oct-21-06 at 08:53 PM
In response to message #21
Yeah I know, Muffin. I just hate the stigma and I hate that people buy into it. It makes me sad.

I really wasn't meaning to slam anyone.


#23, RE: A thought about anonymous donations...
Posted by muffin on Oct-21-06 at 08:59 PM
In response to message #22
I know. In an ideal world...sigh

Maybe some day we'll have a Herpes Coup - Take Back the Night Rally.


"Everybody hurts sometimes.
So hold on...hold on...hold on...hold on.
Everybody hurts. You're not alone." ~ REM