A new study by scientists at the Trudeau Institute has confirmed intriguing findings from earlier research that showed that mice infected with certain forms of the herpes virus are resistant to infection with bacterial pathogens.
Although herpes infections are generally considered undesirable and are associated with declining immune function or the development of a variety of tumors, the initial research, by Herbert Virgin, raised the unexpected possibility that they may also be beneficial.
A major implication of the research is in the development of vaccines against herpes infections. Virgin suggested that “decreased infection may be associated with unintended negative consequences for vaccinated individuals.” In response, Blackman argues that possible transient protective effects did not outweigh the already recognized pathological consequences of herpes infection. Both groups agreed that the protective effects of herpesvirus infections merit further study.