Ocular Herpes: Learning how to prevent ocular herpes and infectious blindness.
Researchers supported by DEF have made great progress in understanding the molecular mechanisms of ocular herpes including its latency, reactivation, and scarring. Scientists continue to gain an understanding of LAT, the major virus gene active during herpes latency, including its central role in keeping the virus invisible between attacks and ways in which it inhibits the body’s immune response to the herpes infection.
To combat the blinding effects of ocular herpes virus infection our DEF and the National Institute of Health (NIH) supported scientists are taking several approaches toward this worldwide problem.
- Drs. Steven Wechsler and Dale Carpenter have made progress in understanding the molecular mechanisms of ocular herpes including its latency, reactivation, recurrence, and scarring.
- Dr. Lbachir BenMohamed is investigating how the herpes simplex virus escapes our natural immune system, which is another way the virus remains a lifelong concern. Understanding this process could lead to therapies to eradicate this chronic infection.
- Drs. BenMohamed and Anthony Nesburn are currently developing a novel vaccine that would provide an effective and less costly means of preventing and treating ocular herpes. The underlying rationale for these grants is to understand and eventually eradicate debilitating Herpes Simplex Virus of the eye and genital tract. Their findings are currently being evaluated in pre-clinical studies.
- Drs. Wechsler and James Jester have developed a powerful new approach to understand how herpes infection causes corneal scarring. This approach may well lead to new ways to save the vision of those with ocular herpes – a major cause of corneal blindness worldwide.
Posted November 2008