New Concepts in Herpes Simplex Virus Vaccine Development: Notes From the Battlefield

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The recent discovery that T cells recognize different sets of herpes simplex virus type 1 and type 2 epitopes from seropositive symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals might lead to a fundamental immunologic advance in vaccine development against herpes infection and diseases. The newly introduced needle-free mucosal (i.e., topical ocular and intravaginal) lipopeptide vaccines provide a novel strategy that might target ocular and genital herpes and possibly provide 'heterologous protection' from HIV-1. Indeed, mucosal self-adjuvanting lipopeptide vaccines are easy to manufacture, simple to characterize, extremely pure, cost-effective, highly immunogenic and safe. In this review, we bring together recent published and unpublished data that illuminates the status of epitope-based herpes vaccine development and present an overview of our recent approach to an 'asymptomatic epitope'-based lipopeptide vaccine.