This has been about six months in the making, and so I am happy to finally declare that RVx’s website is now live (http://rationalvaccines.com/). The company’s facebook page is here: https://www.facebook.com/rationalvaccines/. There are about 30 pages of content on the RVx website and links to the relevant literature that, for the first time ever, offer what I would consider a (1) relatively succinct but (2) thorough and accurate synopsis of where the field of herpes diagnosis, treatment / management, and prevention currently stands.
For all the people who have followed this blog, think back across the past 20 years and ask yourself one simple question:
How much did I learn about the condition of HSV infection vs herpetic disease and the diagnostic / treatment / prevention options for herpes from the following so-called experts who proposed they were going to cure the disease:
- Glaxo Smith Kline who proposed the Herpevac vaccine;
- Sanofi-Pasteur who proposed the ACAM-529 vaccine;
- Biovex who proposed the Immunovex vaccine;
- Agenus who proposed the HerpV vaccine;
- Admedus/Corridon who proposed a HSV-2 subunit vaccine;
- Vical who proposed a HSV-2 subunit vaccine; and
- Genocea who proposed the GEN-003 vaccine?
All of these companies supposedly had the expertise necessary to deliver better herpes vaccines, but none of them attempted to address the glaring problems that (1) the herpes diagnostic methods being used by doctors were problematic; (2) the information patients and doctors were working with was two decades out of date; and (3) the strategies that were the foundation of these companies’ so-called “promising herpes vaccines” all suffered from serious flaws that made it likely that this latest “promising” HSV-2 vaccine concept would fail again, like its predecessors which date back to 1986 (i.e, the year I graduated high school).
I note that 1.5 billion people have been infected with HSV-1 and/or HSV-2 since I graduated high school, so if I sound skeptical about HSV-2 subunit vaccines, in particular, this is not just me being old and bitter. It’s based on the 30-year-track record of HSV-2 subunit vaccines that have been continually in the process of failing since they were first proposed in 1983.
I hope that what comes across on RVx’s website is that what is being offered is something different. This is the first company to form around 20 years of work from a HSV expert with 50+ publications in the space to validate the views and approaches offered by the company.
I hope that the content of the website conveys that the solutions RVx will be offering are not the topic-du-jour nor are they based on some slick, science-fiction approach. These solutions are plain and extraordinarily simple, as are all bona fide solutions in science. The real solution to any scientific problem almost always proves to be extraordinarily elegant in its simplicity and tends to evoke two responses from people: (1) ‘Well, of course. This is obvious.” and (2) “It is so simple, anyone could have figured this out.”
So, it is with the solutions offered on the RVx website in the realm of better herpes vaccines, better herpes diagnostics, and a place to deposit accurate and up-to-date information about what we do, and do not, know about herpes. Is this information boring and self-evident? For sure. However, I do note one major advantage………RVx’s vaccines and diagnostic tests work about 100x better than all of the garbage that has come before. In biology, a 100-fold difference is what most people simply consider “Right” versus “Wrong.”
So, let’s take this debate to the next level. Over 100 million people are suffering with a chronic disease called “recurrent herpes,” over 1 million people are newly infected with HSV-1 and HSV-2 every week, and the past “solutions” offered by the “inseparable trio” of Big Pharma, the NIH, and the FDA for the past 30 years have not changed the equation one iota. So, why should we keep listening to the people who have been “wrong” for the past 30 years? That is, 1.5 billion people have been newly infected with HSV-1 and HSV-2 during the time that the inseparable trio have ignored the self-evident possibility that a live-and-appropriately-attenuated HSV-2 vaccine might be the ONLY TREATMENT MODALITY with the potential to stop the spread of herpes. Yet, this is precisely the one treatment option that Big Pharma, the NIH, and the FDA have left unstudied for the past 30 years.
Not only have live HSV-2 vaccines not be carefully evaluated, but my experience is that the majority of vaccine scientists (with the backing of the inseparable trio) have been misled to believe that we are simply incapable in the 21st century of making a live HSV-2 vaccine that is safe enough to test in people. The scientific evidence tells a radically different story (i.e., it is quite possible to make a HSV-2 vaccine that is uber-safe), but this has not swayed the outdated views of the inseparable trio. Yes, we did succeed in advancing live-and-appropriately attenuated viral vaccines in the 1800s and the 1900s, but in the 2000s (with radically better technology), it is now simply impossible to implement this tried-and-true strategy without unleashing plagues of locusts, the zombie apocalypse, and dogs and cats living together upon a world that has never seen such horrors.
When the people in charge are screwing things up this badly, that is typically the cue that it is time to fire the current leaders and bring in new leadership.
Please take a look at the herpes-free future RVx is offering the world, consider the past 10 years of publications from the Halford Lab (and now Carr lab at OUHSC) that say that this live HSV-2 (or HSV-1) vaccine works up to 100-fold better than the HSV subunit vaccine garbage of the past 30 years, and ask yourself one simple question:
If a live-and-appropriately-attenuated HSV-2 vaccine holds the potential for eradicating all herpetic diseases and the general strategy has a batting average of 1000 (i.e., this type of live viral vaccine has never failed in the history of medicine), then wouldn’t it seem kind of silly to not at least explore that possibility?
The plain and simple truth is that this is exactly what has been happening since I graduated high school. The herpes community, based on no specific evidence and more of just “a gut feeling,” has concluded that it would be “too dangerous” to test a live-attenuated HSV-2 vaccine in a human clinical trial and so the possibility has been ignored, dismissed, and even demonized over the past 30 years. The decision to not pursue this approach explains precisely why every single herpes sufferer in the world under the age of 30 who is reading this blog post actually has herpes. Had we developed a live HSV-2 vaccine in 1984, when the first one was proposed (i.e., a HSV-2 tk-mutant virus), then herpes would most likely have become a vaccine-preventable disease by the year 2000.
Better late than never.
My advice…….let’s quit trusting the losers who have demonized live HSV-2 vaccines for the past 30 years and allowed another 1.5 billion people to be newly infected whilst we have done little more than simply sit on our hands and hope that the next time Moses returns from mountain, he will not only bring back the 10 commandments, but maybe God will give him the seed stock for an effective herpes vaccine.
The time to act is now. Enough with the abject ignorance and stupidity. Does a live-attenuated HSV-2 entail risks? Of course…..as does walking out the front door of your house every morning. Over 50 million people will contract new HSV-1 and HSV-2 infections in 2016. Relative to the risk of the current herpes epidemic, the risks of small Phase I clinical trials of a live-and-appropriately-attenuated HSV-2 vaccine in humans simply pales in comparison to the certainty that another million people will be infected with wild-type HSV-1 or HSV-2 this week. HSV-2 subunit vaccines have been failing for 30 years. I believe that it is time to try something new.
Let’s start testing real solutions with the real potential to eradicate herpes and ensure that our children and grandchildren don’t ever have to know what it means to wear the “Scarlet H,” that continues to derail the lives of far too many people.
– Bill H.