Genital Herpes Treatment Research

Herpes research is a continuous process, and covers many different areas. Some researchers concentrate on treating and reducing outbreaks, while others search for ways to prevent the transmission of the virus itself. DNA studies are slowly decoding the virus’ make-up, searching for weak or vulnerable areas.

The investigation has a long way to go: the mechanisms by which the virus hides in nerve endings, why it periodically reactivates, and why different people experience different symptoms all require explanation. Clinical trials and research continue in all of these areas.

Recent Developments

The search for a herpes vaccine isn’t entirely altruistic. Obviously, with millions infected worldwide, the manufacturer of such a vaccine stands to make a staggering amount of money. This is actually good news: the potential pay-off spurs the research along. And researchers are slowly approaching their goal.

In 2002 SmithKline Beecham, a major player in herpes research, revealed that they had developed a vaccine that was performing well in advanced clinical trials. There were, however, a few setbacks. Unlike most other vaccines, their herpes vaccine was gender-specific. It appears to help prevent women from contracting HSV 2, but not men. Differences in male and female sexual anatomy may be the cause of this, a potential complication for other STD vaccines.

The vaccine also proved ineffective for women who were infected with HSV 1 (cold sores). This was less surprising as both forms of HSV are closely related. The vaccine does nothing to prevent outbreaks in people who already have the virus. SmithKline Beecham hopes that by inoculating women with the vaccine, fewer infections will occur, which will eventually benefit both sexes.

Are Any Vaccines Available?

No vaccines are currently available to the public in the United States, although clinical trial volunteers can often access experimental treatments. In Europe and part of South America a variety of herpes vaccines are available. These vary wildly in effectiveness. Some offer a measure of preventive protection and somewhat reduce the frequency of outbreaks. Others do little to nothing. These vaccines have yet to receive FDA approval, and are unavailable in the USA.

Resveratrol: Relief Through a Red Wine Ingredient?

Resveratrol, an antioxidant found in red wine, inhibits herpes’ ability to replicate itself, and therefore spread to other cells. This discovery could help prevent outbreaks.

Reservatrol only works if it is administered during the early stages of an outbreak: ideally, within the first hour of the outbreak. After nine hours, its ability to hinder viral replication diminishes sharply.


Microbicides, or microbe killers, are attracting attention in herpes research. Investigation into topical creams, gels and lotions that women can insert into the vagina before intercourse are under way. The microbicide, theoretically, should prevent infection. Rather like SmithKline Beecham’s vaccine, such lotions would only help women avoid HSV 2 transmission.


Ferber, Dan. (2000). Herpes vaccine in the spotlight: Vaccine fails to protect men and women who have had cold sores. Retrieved August 26, 2002, from (nd). “Good” virus / “bad” virus. Retrieved August 27, 2002, from (nd). Precautions. Retrieved August 26, 2002, from (nd). Transmission. Retrieved August 26, 2002, from