Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Antiviral drug, valacyclovir, reduces genital herpes transmission

31.12.2003


An international team of researchers finds that taking a single daily dose of an approved antiviral drug known as valacyclovir can reduce the transmission of genital herpes to uninfected partners by 50 percent. The results are published in the Jan. 1 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.



The team of researchers led by Dr. Larry Corey, a member of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research, conducted a study of nearly 1,500 heterosexual monogamous couples in which one partner had genital herpes and the other did not. Infected partners who received a standard daily oral dose each day of valacyclovir were half as likely to transmit herpes simplex type 2 (HSV-2) than infected partners given a placebo.

University of Washington collaborators included Dr. Anna Wald, associate professor of medicine and laboratory medicine, and Dr. R. Ashley Morrow, professor of laboratory medicine.


The strategy potentially could be applied to combat the spread of other sexually transmitted diseases that are caused by viruses. "This is the first demonstration that an antiviral drug can prevent a viral sexually transmitted disease," said Corey, also a professor of laboratory medicine at UW and head of Fred Hutchinson’s Fred Hutchinson’s infectious diseases program. "The study provides the conceptual framework to extend other viral sexually transmitted diseases, such has HIV infection."

Genital herpes is caused by HSV-2 and infects about 50 million Americans over age 20. The virus is transmitted through sexual contact and is often silent, which contributes to the spread of disease. Those who do develop symptoms experience genital ulcers that are often painful. Infected individuals can transmit the virus even when they are not aware that they are infected or when no symptoms are present, and the infection can remain in the body indefinitely. Almost 80 percent of persons with HSV-2 are not diagnosed because accurate blood tests to detect antibodies signifying infection with the virus have only recently been developed and are not widely used.

Antiviral drugs, such as acyclovir and more recently, valacyclovir and famciclovir, have been known to reduce herpes outbreaks for nearly two decades. In the last few years, Wald, Corey and others have shown that such drugs also reduce the frequency and amount of HSV-2 that is shed from the genital area, which is the major source of herpes transmission. This observation provided the rationale for the current study, which sought to determine whether reducing the amount of viral shedding-even in the absence of clinical symptoms-could prevent herpes transmission.

The study, conducted at 96 centers in the United States, Canada, Europe, South America and Australia, used blood tests for HSV-2 antibody to identify monogamous heterosexual couples in which one partner had genital herpes and one did not. The person with herpes in each couple was randomly assigned to either receive a daily dose of valacyclovir or a placebo. The study was conducted in a double-blind fashion, meaning that neither the researchers nor the participants knew which treatment they received.

Susceptible partners were evaluated monthly for a total of eight months for signs and symptoms of HSV-2 infection and for HSV-2 antibody in the blood. Source partners (those with herpes at the outset of the study) were examined monthly for disease recurrence. Both partners were counseled on safer-sex practices and offered condoms at each visit.

At the end of the eight-month study period, genital herpes had occurred in 41 of the sexual partners of those on placebo versus 21 who took valacyclovir, as judged by the antibody-blood test. Couples who used condoms and valacyclovir had the lowest transmission rate.

The findings that antiviral therapy reduces HSV-2 transmission add an important option in the management of patients with genital herpes who are sexually active, said Wald, an affiliate member of the Clinical Research Division and medical director of the UW Virology Research Clinic, one of the world’s leading sites for herpes research.

"We hope the results will encourage more persons to be tested for HSV-2 and more physicians to offer suppressive antiviral therapy for those with HSV-2 infection," she said. Valacyclovir, marketed as Valtrex by GlaxoSmithKline, has recently received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in preventing genital herpes in couples in which one partner has genital herpes.

The effectiveness of antivirals at reducing genital herpes transmission could also help to stem the AIDS epidemic, which affects 42 million people around the world. Scientists have become worried about the increasing genital herpes epidemic worldwide because recent studies indicate HSV-2 may help to spread HIV, which causes AIDS. Persons with genital herpes are two times more likely to acquire the HIV-1 virus. Dr. Connie Celum, UW professor of medicine, Wald and Corey have received funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to evaluate whether acyclovir, the parent compound of valacyclovir, can reduce the transmission of HIV by suppressing the HSV-2 virus and reducing its effects on HIV-1 in genital fluids.

"If effective, therapy for HSV-2 could offer another way for decreasing the spread of HIV, which could be helpful until a vaccine for HIV is developed," Corey said. "Also, this approach highlights the importance of working toward developing a vaccine for HSV-2."

Susan Edmonds | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.fhcrc.org
http://www.washington.edu/medicine/

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution
09.12.2016 | Veterans Affairs Research Communications

nachricht Oxygen can wake up dormant bacteria for antibiotic attacks
08.12.2016 | Penn State

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>