Immune responses elicited by the GEN-003 candidate HSV-2 therapeutic vaccine in a randomized controlled dose-ranging phase 1/2a trial

Vaccine. 2016 Oct 17;34(44):5314-5320. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2016.09.001. Epub 2016 Sep 15.


Purpose: GEN-003 is a candidate therapeutic HSV-2 vaccine containing a fragment of infected cell protein 4 (ICP4.2), a deletion mutant of glycoprotein D2 (gD2ΔTMR), and Matrix-M2 adjuvant. In a dose-ranging phase 1/2a clinical trial, immunization with GEN-003 reduced viral shedding and the percentage of reported herpetic lesion days. Here we examine the immune responses in the same trial, to characterize vaccine-related changes in antibody and cell-mediated immunity.

Methods: Participants with genital HSV-2 infection were randomized to 1 of 3 doses of GEN-003, antigens without adjuvant, or placebo. Subjects received 3 intramuscular doses, three weeks apart, and were monitored for viral shedding, lesions and immunogenicity. Antibody titers were measured by ELISA and neutralization assay in serum samples collected at baseline and 3weeks post each dose. T cell responses were assessed pre-immunization and 1week post each dose by IFN-γ ELISpot and intracellular cytokine staining. Blood was also collected at 6 and 12months to monitor durability of immune responses.

Results: Antibody and T cell responses increased with vaccination and were potentiated by adjuvant. Among the doses tested, the rank order of reduction in viral shedding follows the ranking of fold change from baseline in T cell responses. Some immune responses persisted up to 12months.

Conclusion: All measures of immunity are increased by vaccination with GEN-003; however, a correlate of protection is yet to be defined.

Keywords: Herpes simplex virus; Immune response; Immunotherapy; Vaccine.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase I
  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Immunologic
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunospot Assay
  • Female
  • Herpes Genitalis / immunology*
  • Herpes Genitalis / therapy*
  • Herpes Simplex Virus Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • Herpes Simplex Virus Vaccines / immunology*
  • Herpes Simplex Virus Vaccines / therapeutic use*
  • Herpesvirus 2, Human / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular
  • Immunotherapy
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis
  • Male
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / immunology
  • Middle Aged
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Viral Matrix Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Viral Matrix Proteins / immunology
  • Virus Shedding
  • Young Adult


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Herpes Simplex Virus Vaccines
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Viral Matrix Proteins
  • Interferon-gamma