The company dedicated to discovering vaccines for herpes is back in the news. Rational Vaccines gained notoriety when its founder, the late Dr. Bill Halford, bypassed FDA protocol for vaccine development and set up a small trial on the island of St. Kitts, in the Caribbean, using live attenuated virus on volunteers who were suffering from herpes simplex. Now, three years after Dr. Halford's death, Rational is developing five vaccines for herpes and two for COVID. But his time, by the book.
In 2017, ACSH interviewed Dr. Harvey Friedman (pictured) from the Infectious Disease Division of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. We discussed his group's prophylactic herpes vaccine. The animal data generated since then have been eye-opening, and the group is preparing for human clinical trials. If it succeeds it would be the first successful herpes vaccine in 100 years of research.
There's more unwelcome news for sufferers of genital herpes. Less than a year after Genocea's experimental herpes vaccine went down in flames, Vical's VCL-HB01 met the same fate: no efficacy in Phase II trials. And worse, there's nothing obvious on the horizon that can fill the void.
Over nearly a century, vaccines for genital herpes have come and gone. Make that gone and gone, because there's not a single vaccine that can treat or prevent either oral or genital herpes. But some good news might be coming from Vical, when phase II results of its VCL-HB01 vaccine is released, hopefully in mid-2018.
The highly unconventional, unregulated trials of Theravax herpes vaccine were very big news. That's especially true after its inventor, the late Dr. Bill Halford, MD, used the vaccine in people without pre-approval of an institutional review board. Critics abounded, but few wanted to know if the vaccine actually worked. One participant spoke with us about his experience.
Another vaccine against herpes has failed, but this time it wasn't intended for genital herpes. Instead, Astellas and Vical were trying to develop a vaccine for cytomegalovirus, another herpes virus.
Some developments in the race toward the first vaccine against genital herpes. Genocea's GEN-003 readies for Phase III late this year.