SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO — A herpes vaccine has been tested successfully on guinea pigs, and scientists hope that eventually it can be used for humans, researchers at Genentech Inc., the nation's largest biotechnology company, reported.
"Right now, we're concentrating on the animal studies, and until we can get conclusive results about its efficacy, we don't want to take a chance on human trials," said Phillip Berman, one of the researchers who used gene-splicing techniques to isolate a herpes virus protein for the vaccine.
The results of the Genentech study were published in the current issue of the journal Science. The work marks the first time that scientists have reported immunizing animals against herpes with a genetically engineered vaccine, said Lawrence Lasky, another Genentech researcher.
The vaccine, which appeared effective against both the genital and cold sore varieties of herpes, is unsuitable for human use in its present form, researchers said.