Recent studies may have seen a form of immune cell that can be found in the skin that prevents painful outbreak blisters and sores. The experts are almost certain that this is the key behind finding the much-awaited herpes vaccine. This comes as no surprise, since at least 24 million people in the United States of America are troubled by genital herpes.
For the study, skin samples were taken from people who had contracted the herpes simplex virus 2. Under a microscope of high power, the experts made use of fluorescent stains to differentiate the various immune cells of the skin. According to them, the most intriguing immune cells were the CD8 killer T-cells, which provide a secondary defence. Apparently, the T-cells destroyed cells that were infected by virus, as soon as the infection took place. Needless to say, these prevented the copies of the virus.
At some point, experts were certain that these CD8 T-cells were found at different locations of the body. However, they now know that these stay in place, always watchful and alert. To understand these cells better, the researchers picked out 5 of them, aiming to tear them apart and find the protein they were forming. The discovery was a type of protein that pierced membranes to destroy cells, known as perforin. It even had the ability to make other proteins to beckon backup cells to pack a punch during the attack. Perforin was not made when there was no active virus in the skin.
Dr. Lawrence Corey of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center exclaimed that they have shown a set of special group of cells. Not only does the CD8 killer T-cells happen to have a memory, they also stay in the skin for long time spans. Dr. Lawrence also mentioned that these cells actually keep the herpes virus in check! He insists that experts study them, figure out what helps them live longer and work better. Also, he wants to figure out how to make them increase in numbers. According to him, all these will help the scientists prepare the perfect, effective vaccine for herpes.
As most of us know, there is no permanent cure for herpes, which is why a vaccine will be a miracle. Aside from abstaining from having any form of sexual contact, there is no certain way to prevent a person from contracting herpes. Moreover, condoms help, but only to a certain extent. Since the entire groin region is not covered, there remains a risk of spreading the herpes infection to others during sexual intercourse. Therefore, if the CD8 killer T-cells is the answer to herpes, then experts must study them and find that vaccine before the number of herpes patients increase any further.