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Vaccine. 2019 Jun 6;37(26):3443-3450. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2019.05.009. Epub 2019 May 15.

Therapeutic HSV-2 vaccine decreases recurrent virus shedding and recurrent genital herpes disease.

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Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medzical Center, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, USA. Electronic address:
Genocea Biosciences, Cambridge, MA, USA.
Innovative Analytics, Kalamazoo, MI, USA.
University of Washington, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA, USA.



Genital herpes simplex virus (HSV) type 2 is a common persistent infection that frequently reactivates to cause recurrent lesions and recurrent viral shedding which is incompletely controlled by antiviral therapy. GEN-003 is a candidate therapeutic vaccine containing 2 HSV-2 proteins, gD2 and ICP4, and Matrix-M2 adjuvant (M2).


HSV-2 seropositive persons with genital herpes were randomized into three dose cohorts of Gen-003 (60 µg antigen/50 µg M2, 60 µg/75 µg M2 or Placebo). Three intramuscular doses 21 days apart of GEN-003 or placebo were administered. Participants obtained genital area swabs twice-daily for HSV-2 detection and monitored genital lesions for 12 months. The rates of virus shedding and lesion rates before vaccination were compared to 3 defined periods after vaccination; Days 43-71, Month 6 and Month 12.


GEN-003 at a dose of 60 µg each antigen/50 µg M2 reduced HSV shedding immediately after dosing with a rate ratio of 0.58, compared to 0.75 for the GEN-003 60 µg/75 µg M2 and 1.06 for placebo. Lesion rates, recurrence rates, and duration of recurrences were also reduced. Reactogenicity was higher with the 75 µg M2 dose than the 50 µg M2 dose, specifically for pain, tenderness, malaise and fatigue. Antibody and cellular immune responses were stimulated by both doses and persisted to 12 months.


GEN-003 vaccine manufactured with a scalable process gave results similar to those observed in prior clinical trials. GEN-003 had an acceptable safety profile and stimulated both humoral and cellular immune responses. The 60 µg antigen/50 µg M2 provided the maximal effect on virologic and clinical measures and warrants further development. (Funded by Genocea; number NCT02515175).

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