Scientists at Washington University, Pennsylvania State University and the Université de Montréal have uncovered a cellular process to fight type 1 herpes simplex (HSV-1), the virus responsible for cold sores. The researchers findings were published in Nature Immunology.
According to the researchers, HSV-1 hides and blocks protection from the immune system. The researchers found the nuclear membrane of an infected cell can unmask HSV-1 and stimulate the immune system to disintegrate the virus. The team made its discovery while conducting various tests in HSV-1 infected mice cells.
In the study, the researchers replicated environments when HSV-1 thrives such as periods of low-grade fever between 38.5 to 39C, and found that herpes-fighting mechanisms were unleashed. The research team now plans to study how activation of the herpes-combating cellular process could be applied to other illnesses. The outcome could hasten the development of therapies to prevent other immune-evading bacteria, parasites and viruses.
The researchers concede that the technology might not eradicate HSV-1 in those already affected, it might keep the virus dormant for future contact.
This study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Fonds de la Recherche en Santé du Québec, the US National Institutes of Health and the foundation Research to Prevent Blindness.