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genes linked to cold sore frequency

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FRIDAY, Dec. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Scientists have identified the first gene associated with frequent herpes-related cold sores.

The herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) affects more than 70 percent of the U.S. population. Once the virus infects the body it is never removed by the immune system. It's transported to nerve cell bodies, where it remains dormant until reactivated.

A cold sore on or around the mouth is the most common visible symptom of HSV-1 reactivation.

"Researchers believe that three factors contribute to HSV-1 reactivation -- the virus itself, exposure to environmental factors and genetic susceptibility," study first author Dr. John Kriesel, a research associate professor of infectious diseases at the University of Utah School of Medicine, said in a university news release. "The goal of our investigation was to define genes linked to cold sore frequency."

He and his team conducted genetic analyses of 355 people infected with HSV-1 and 263 uninfected people and discovered that a gene called C21orf91 was associated with susceptibility to frequent cold sore outbreaks.

Two variants of the gene seemed to protect against HSV-1 reactivation while two other variants seemed to increase the risk of frequent cold sore outbreaks, according to the report published in the Dec. 1 issue of the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

"There is no cure for HSV-1 and, at this time, there is no way for us to predict or prevent cold sore outbreaks," Kriesel said in the news release. "The C21orf91 gene seems to play a role in cold sore susceptibility, and if this data is confirmed among a larger, unrelated population, this discovery could have important implications for the development of drugs that affect cold sore frequency."

More information

The American Academy of Dermatology has more about cold sores and other mouth and lip conditions.

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    • viralfrog
      Having HSV-2 has not bothered me at all for casual sex. I'm just avoiding sex during outbreaks, on suppressive therapy and using condoms every time with casual partners. Since my outbreaks appear on top of my penis, even during an outbreak the risk is minimal if I put a condom on as soon as I take my underwear off.  I guess it might be a slightly different case for a girl as if you have external lesions around your groin you could still infect someone even using a condom. And of course, condoms can break, which has happened to me over 10 times and caused myself to get infected in the first place.  I see it as a much more difficult now having a serious relationship, because I can't feel much with a condom on and really want stop using them. However, I don't want to put my new girlfriend to any risk - I would feel terrible if I infected her. 
    • viralfrog
      Does anyone have experience about people's reactions to Herpes in Asia? Personally I live in Thailand where I also caught the virus as a condom broke 4 years ago.  Unfortunately I infected my ex-girlfriend with HSV-2. This was just after I had caught the virus myself and we had sex before I noticed and realised what it was. In the beginning, a local doctor told me I have just hurt my foreskin with my jeans' zipper and the tests came as negative. After getting tested later it came as positive.  Anyways, my ex-gf (well educated, professional, 26 years old then) she had no idea what Herpes was in the first place. She didn't really care too much about it and didn't bother to get tested. During our 3 year relationship we kept having unprotected sex as usual and she never had any issues until at the end one day. She had a very minor outbreak once and nothing after that (lucky her, no like myself who gets terrible symptoms non-stop). I know she has a strong immune system, because she was never sick despite myself having bad colds quite often. In any case, she could not care less about this virus and didn't mind at all.

      I've seen a lot of hysteria surrounding Herpes in Europe and the US. What has been your experience in South-East Asian countries like Thailand? Do people perceive HSV-2 as a worrying disease? 
    • Burty
      The full article is behind a paywall but you could write the the authors and request a copy.
    • OFMDH
      The jury is still out as there needs to be additional experiments. Editas' results make me believe dosing was insufficient among other issues.
    • moialbalushi
      Wow interesting !! But how did they provide it to him !! I mean he is 27 years old !!
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