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Scientists are researching the possibility to create a universal influenza vaccine 1. The influenza virus already has many strains 2 and evolves itself rapidly into new strains because influenza uses RNA which lacks self-correcting properties, instead of DNA that does have "integrity checks", allowing for errors on replication which ultimately lead to entire new influenza strains. Because influenza evolves so rapidly, it is hard to develop vaccines that uses dead copies of all those influenza strains, for the human body to be used to create antibodies.

One of the methods the scientists use for developing this universal influenza vaccine is protein folding 3 4.

Now, I don't know enough about this matter but as far as I understand the evolution of the influenza virus is very similar to the evolution of the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV). If that is true, Protein Folding can likely be used to create a similar vaccine against HSV.

HSV-1 is apparently something that 67% of the world population under age 50 is suffering from 5. Projects such as Rosetta at Home and Folding at Home provide scientists with massive, free to use computer calculation power to speed up the protein folding research. I can imagine that if a certain lead is found that big technology companies or even governments are happy to provide these scientists with additional "super" computing power to solve this problem.

So, can Protein Folding indeed be used to develop a vaccine against the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV)? If so, why aren't we doing that? Also, would such vaccine only benefit the people who are not yet infected by influenza (33% under age 50) or will it also cure the existing influenza virus in currently infected people?


1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_flu_vaccine
2 https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/viruses/types.htm
3 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protein_folding
4 https://dspace.library.uu.nl/bitstream/handle/1874/14674/39%20Maggioni%20NSMB%20%2705.pdf?sequence=3
5 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herpes_simplex_virus

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