(HealthDay News) — Three injections of a therapeutic vaccine may control herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) as effectively as daily pills for at least a year, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDWeek), held in New Orleans.

Researchers tested the experimental vaccine in 310 patients with HSV-2 from 17 centers around the United States. Patients were randomly split into 7 dosing groups, including a placebo group. Testing was repeated periodically for 12 months after dosing and included analyzing genital swab samples for the presence of HSV-2. The days when genital lesions were present were also recorded.

The 3 injections of GEN-003, administered 3 weeks apart, appeared to reduce patients’ genital lesions and viral shedding. The most common side effects patients experienced after vaccination included muscle aches, fatigue, and pain or tenderness at the injection site.

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“In general terms, people receiving GEN-003 have greater than 50% fewer days in which virus is present in their genital tracts, which in theory may reduce transmission,” study author Jessica Baker Flechtner, PhD, the chief scientific officer at Genocea Biosciences, the Cambridge, Mass., manufacturer of the vaccine, told HealthDay. “However, this would need to be proven in a well-powered clinical trial. Our trials have included both men and women, and to date, we have not seen a difference in the vaccine impact between genders.”

All study authors are employees and shareholders of Genocea Biosciences, the manufacturer of GEN-003.

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1. Mcneil LK, Siddall N, Baccari A, et al. BS1343. Functional Antibody Responses to GEN-003, a Herpes Simplex Virus Immunotherapy that Durably Reduces Viral Shedding up to 12 Months Post Dosing. Presented at IDWeek 2016.