ESR7 - Characterization of the immune responses triggered by live attenuated vaccines against HSV-2

Crucell-Janssen, Netherlands




Student: Elisa Rosetti, Ph.D. fellow

Supervisor: Prof. Hanneke Schuitemaker, Ph.D.

Co-supervisor: Roland Zahn, Ph.D.




Herpes Simplex Virus-2 (HSV-2) is the leading cause of genital herpes and a major global health problem.

HSV-2 can lead to a lifelong disease as the virus resides in nerve cells and can reactivate sub clinically or cause genital blisters.  Infection may be asymptomatic or severe with painful skin lesions and other complications. HSV-2 increases the risk of acquiring HIV infection and immunocompromised individuals and infants (born from infected mothers) are at risk for more serious complications associated with HSV-2.

There is a great need for an effective vaccine against HSV-2.  Several vaccines have been evaluated in clinical trials, but no vaccine is yet available on the market.  It is still unknown what immunological parameters are required to protect against HSV-2 infection. Therefore, it is important to carefully study immune responses of new vaccine candidates in animal models and evaluate how these responses correlate with protection against disease.


Currently, I am working on evaluating the immune response of a few potential HSV-2 vaccine candidates in mice. These vaccines are based on live attenuated viruses (“weakened viruses”) that do not replicate in the recipient body once injected. In addition, it has been shown in literature that these vectors are more likely to induce cellular and humoral immune responses, both necessary to act against HSV-2.

The goal of this project is to characterize and better understand the immune responses that are induced by these vaccine candidates.  Mechanisms that can regulate the innate immune response at the site of injection will be studied as well as the specific immune response. 

The question which immune parameters will protect against HSV-2 infection will be addressed.  





Contact details

Hanneke Schuitemaker and Roland Zahn

Janssen Biologics BV

Einsteinweg 101

2333 CB Leiden

The Netherlands

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