GlaxoSmithKline has stopped efforts to develop a vaccine to block genital herpes in women after the experimental drug failed a major clinical trial.
The failure of the vaccine, known as Simplirix, is a blow for GSK, which is seeking promising new products to bolster its pipeline. The British company employs about 5,000 people in the Triangle, home to its North American headquarters.
It's also a setback in the quest for a vaccine against genital herpes, which afflicts about one in four women in the United States, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The vaccine was designed to protect against the two major herpes simplex viruses. Once in the body, the virus migrates to nerve cells, where it remains permanently. The virus can cause severe illness in infants born to HSV-infected women and is a risk factor for transmission of HIV. There is no cure and, with the new results, still no vaccine to protect against it, the Times reported.
In the clinical trial, called Herpevac, 8,323 women between the ages of 18 and 30 received either Simplirix or Havrix, a vaccine that protects against hepatitis A.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which co-sponsored the trial with GSK, announced today that the vaccine provided no more than 20 percent protection against infection, a level that was not statistically different from zero. Researchers do not yet know why the vaccine failed, the Times reported.
GSK's global vaccines business is headquartered in Belgium and its U.S. vaccines team is based in Philadelphia. The company's shares fell 20 cents today to close at $39.52. The stock is down 6 percent this year.