Letter: Herpes fight without funding

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The Independent Online
Your report "Doctors alarmed as herpes returns with a vengeance" (2 February) reflects our own concern. This infection's propensity to become latent and recur ensures that, unlike other sexually transmitted diseases, the pool of patients with the disease can only increase progressively as patients who have established recurrent disease remain potential sources of infection during herpetic recurrences and, to a lesser extent, between recurrences.

There appears to be no real commitment by the Government or Medical Research Council to prevent this infection by supporting vaccine research. In our own centre we have been researching an inactivated herpes simplex vaccine which in open trial over 15 years appears to offer protection against contraction of the disease. American trials indicate its therapeutic efficacy, without one recorded adverse effect in vaccinated patients.

We cannot obtain the modest funding from public or private sources that would allow evaluation of this vaccine by formal clinical trial, thereby ensuring a potentially useful vaccine does not fall by the wayside. Our experience is reflected in many other vaccine research centres.

Gordon R B Skinner

University of Birmingham