Though herpes is relatively harmless with no adverse affects on the carrier’s immune system, more people are affected by it than we (and they) think. For some, the disease lays dormant, revealing no signs of its presence in their system, while others have the painful reminder proudly displaying itself on their lip.
Shockingly, 80-90% of the American population have oral herpes and, according to the American Sexual Health Administration, one out of every six people between the ages of 19-49 carry the genital HSV2 strain. But according to researchers, the curtain may be closing on this highly contagious antagonist soon.
According to researchers at John Hopkins, findings from two new studies may speed the development of a herpes vaccine. In the first study, led by Thomas Quinn, M.D., professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, they focused solely on the genome structure of HSV2. The team inspected 34 strains in Uganda, South Africa, Japan and the United States. They also included some South African strains previously collected by David Knipe, a herpes researcher at Harvard University.
According to ScienceDaily, “The team reported that compared to HSV1, HSV2 has less genetic diversity. Besides providing clues to how the two strains evolved, the findings also have implications for vaccine development, Quinn says, because HSV2’s low genetic diversity means fewer antigens could be enough for developing a globally effective HSV2 vaccine.”
The second study took a more in-depth comparison of the levels of glycoprotein in HSV1 and HSV2. The team compared “the 36 HSV2 strains from the first paper to 26 previously sequenced strains of HSV1 and looking at geographic diversity among the HSV2 glycoprotein sequences.”
They discovered that strains of glycoproteins Africa had slight variations from other countries. Because of this discovery, it is now possible for researchers to design a universal screening tool! “From this study, you then can make a consensus sequence that is common across the world for HSV2 glycoprotein that is different for HSV1 so you don’t get this misdiagnosis.” says Quinn. This means two fantastic things: more accurate diagnoses around the corner, and the potential for speedier progress on a herpes vaccine!
READ MORE: On Dating With Herpes