American drug maker Antigenic has reported that its research has revealed positive data from a vaccine developed to cure genital infection caused by the herpes simplex virus.

Code-named AG-707, the investigational vaccine uses heat shock protein (HSP) technology. Heat shock proteins, also called stress proteins, are found in all cells. The new vaccine consists of recombinant human heat shock protein-70 complexed with 32 distinct 35 synthetic peptides from the herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2 proteome.)

This broad spectrum of herpes antigens may reduce the chances of immune escape. Further, the diversity of antigens in AG-707 increases the chance of providing efficacy for a wide segment of the patient population, Antigenics has said in a press release.

A clinical study in 35 HSV-2 infected patients showed that AG707 was well tolerated. The vaccine is found triggering a cellular immune response, stimulating both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells.

This study is the first to demonstrate that heat shock proteins complexed to viral antigens induce an antigen-specific T cell response in humans. Data from the research was presented at the International Herpes Workshop annual meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, earlier this week by study investigator, Dr. David Koelle. It will be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

"I believe these data represent the first finding of their kind in genital herpes treatments--showing a vaccine, AG-707, elicits both CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell responses in humans," says Dr. Koelle, M.D., study investigator and professor of Medicine, Laboratory Medicine and Global Health Medicine, University of Washington.

"The obvious potential of AG-707 is in managing outbreaks and disease transmission in patients with genital herpes,", he says while pointing out that genital herpes affects one in six people aged between 14 and 49 in the US. Every year an additional 1.5 million new cases each year.

Genital herpes normally breaks out six times each year, but in severe cases more episodes may result. The psychosocial consequences of genital herpes are quite significant, as 57 percent of those infected indicated that herpes had interfered with their sexual relationships, 50 percent felt it was difficult to live with genital herpes, and 37 percent felt that herpes had ruined their lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control.