NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- There has been a possible breakthrough for the millions of Americans suffering with herpes outbreaks.
An experimental vaccine is proving to be extremely effective at reducing or even eliminating the painful outbreaks.
As TV 10/55's Dr. Max Gomez explained, the manufacturers said this could be close to a cure.
"It's been two to three outbreaks a month for 20 plus years," Richard Mancuso said.
Mancuso has been suffering with severe herpes flare ups ever since he was infected as a young man in his 20s. Like many sufferers, the painful blisters can actually breakout almost anywhere. He gets them around his eyes and mouth as well as the original area.
"You don't just suffer at the area, your whole body suffers. You are sore and have headaches," he said.
That's what led Richard to volunteer for a clinical trial of a vaccine to reduce or eliminate the painful outbreaks.
It's called Theravax, and is made by the biotech company 'Rational Vaccines.'
"It's a live, attenuated virus similar to the chicken pox vaccine that's in the market now. And what we've done is truncated the virus, weakened it so it can't cause infection, but it's a close enough version of the full virus that the immune system can recognize and go after it," CEO Agustin Fernandez explained.
The phase one clinical trial tested the vaccine on 20 patients who had both types of herpes virus -- oral and genital. They got three shots, a month apart, and even though the trials were only designed to show that the vaccine was safe, the company said it achieved some remarkable results.
"We observed a significant reduction of symptoms, 65 percent of the patients achieved complete remission. The other 20 percent, the outbreaks were reduced maybe two-thirds or more," Fernandez said.
Richard was part of the trial. He's gone from several outbreaks a month to just one minor one in 6 months.
"I pretty much got my life back. My health back, and my life back. It's not a constant reminder anymore," he said.
The company is now starting a phase 2 efficacy and dosage trial, but FDA approval for vaccines is a long process, so they expect the vaccine to first be available in the Caribbean and Mexico where Americans may be able to get it.
According to the CDC, herpes outbreaks are a major cause of blindness, encepalitis, and death in newborns.
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