IU Health & Vitality

Sept. 12, 2013

Research and insights from Indiana University


IU Health & Vitality discusses the following topics:

Novel vaccine reduces shedding of genital herpes virus

Sexually transmitted infection researchers potentially have reached a milestone in vaccine treatment for genital herpes, according to a report to be presented at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy in Denver, Colo.,  today, Sept. 12.

Kenneth H. Fife, M.D., is the principal investigator for the IU School of Medicine clinical study of the vaccine for herpes simplex virus type 2 called GEN-003. According to an interim analysis, the experimental protein subunit vaccine made by Genocea Biosciences of Cambridge, Mass., effectively reduces viral shedding.

“Typically vaccines do not modulate a disease someone already has contracted,” said Fife, a professor of medicine and of microbiology and immunology. “The virus can be detected on the skin of people with genital herpes even when they are not having an outbreak. That is often how the disease is spread, often called viral shedding.”

The injectable vaccine is given several times over the course of a few weeks. The clinical study is closed to enrollment, but participants continue to be followed. GEN-003 is one of the first vaccines intended to reduce the viral shedding and frequency and severity of outbreaks and transmission of herpes simplex virus type 2, which is the most common cause of genital herpes. It is estimated to infect more than 500 million people worldwide, and one out of six people age 14 to 49. In the U.S., an estimated 50-60 million people are affected.

“Although the ultimate goal of this vaccine is reducing genital herpes outbreaks and reducing transmission of the virus to others, this is only the first step on a long path toward reaching that goal. It will take several more studies and a number of years to determine if we can reach that goal,” Fife cautioned.

To speak with Fife, contact Mary Hardin at 317-274-5456 or mhardin@iu.edu. Top

Convenient online classes to help parents, professionals keep up with drug/alcohol trends

Counselors, social workers, teachers, doctors and parents need to stay current on drug trends and effects of substances, but finding a reliable source of information online can be challenging.

The Indiana Prevention Resource Center at the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington has begun offering free, one-hour online courses designed to address this void -- and to help lower the risks of substance abuse in Indiana and across the country.

"It is difficult to stay on top of what’s happening in the world of drugs each day. So much changes over night," said the IPRC's Mallori DeSalle. "Initially we focused on how health care and behavioral health care providers could be trained about drugs and alcohol, but we know the alcohol and marijuana modules, our first classes, will branch out to assist counselors, social workers, teachers and parents too. I’ve already talked to one mother who plans to go through the online information with her high school daughter, using it as a way to talk about alcohol and drug use."

The self-administered, interactive classes can be found on the IPRC website and require a free registration.

Before launching the two courses this month, DeSalle and her colleagues asked several groups of professionals to examine them -- and they received favorable reviews.

"These were the most visually interesting modules I have seen and I think we should incorporate them into the curriculum for the medical students and residents in internal medicine at IU," said David Crabb, M.D., chairman of the IU School of Medicine's Department of Medicine.

Each online class covers the historical impacts of the drug; physical, behavioral and social effects of use; long-term and short-term health consequences of use; spectrum of use, such as first use, tolerance, dependence and withdrawal; and national and state data to show how Indiana Hoosiers compare to Americans.

Each module is designed to give up-to-date information in a "real-life" applicable way.

'The interactive nature of the modules enhance the learning experience making it feel more like a learning 'tool' than simply reading the information," said Dean Babcock, associate vice president for Midtown Community Mental Health Center in Indianapolis.

Future modules will address other drug concerns, such as prescription drug abuse.

For more information contact DeSalle at mdesalle@indiana.edu or call 812-855-5735. DeSalle is the Indiana Screening Brief Intervention Referral to Treatment Outreach Coordinator at the IPRC. Top

For additional assistance, contact Tracy James at 812-855-0084 or traljame@iu.edu. Follow news from IU experts in the health sciences, health policy, psychology, physiology, sexuality, sociology and other fields on Twitter @Vitality_IU and @IUMedSchool and the Viewpoints blogs Health & Vitality and Vital Signs.