(HealthDay News) — A new vaccination strategy is effective against genital herpes and possibly other sexually transmitted infections, according to an experimental study published online Oct. 17 in Nature.

Noting that vaccines that rely on T cells for protection are ineffective at peripheral sites such as the female genital tract that normally restrict the entry of activated T cells, Haina Shin, Ph.D., and Akiko Iwasaki, Ph.D., from Yale University in New Haven, Conn., developed a vaccine strategy termed “prime and pull”: a “prime” step of conventional vaccination to elicit a systemic T cell response and a “pull” step of applying chemokines topically to the genital tract to recruit activated T cells.

The researchers found that applying the vaccination strategy against herpes simplex virus-2 (HSV-2) in female mice was effective in recruiting T cells to the vaginal mucosa and that these cells were able to establish a long-term niche. This was associated with protective immunity, reducing the spread of the virus into the sensory neurons and preventing clinical disease.

“These results reveal a promising vaccination strategy against HSV-2, and potentially against other sexually transmitted infections such as HIV-1,” Shin and Iwasaki conclude.

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