Project TitleHerpes Virus Based Vaccine and Oncolytic Vectors
Track Code2014-106
Short Description

Non-neuroinvasive herpes viruses enable production of new vaccines and oncolytic vectors

#biomedical #healthcare #anti-bacterial/anti-viral #therapeutics #infectiousdisease #vaccine


Northwestern researchers have developed recombinant herpes viruses that can be used to generate new vaccines and cancer therapies. Three herpes viruses infect humans, while a collection of them can infect livestock, causing economic losses. A hallmark of herpes virus infection is neuroinvasion, whereby the viruses become latent in the host's nervous system, causing recurrent symptoms over time. Presently, there is a vaccine for only one of the three herpes viruses pathogenic to humans, and there can be complications due to its administration as it employs a neuroinvasive viral strain. To improve the current vaccine, as well as enable creation of other herpes virus vaccines, Northwestern scientists have generated recombinant herpes viruses that can no longer invade the nervous system. These novel mutant variants will also find application in cancer treatment, as oncolytic viruses can be produced that are limited to tumor tissue only and therefore cause fewer side effects. The findings by the Smith group could make current vaccines safer, enable further vaccine research and development, as well as accelerate the pace of research in the fields of cancer treatment and neurobiology.

Tagsbiomedical, HEALTHCARE: anti-bacterial/anti-viral, THERAPEUTICS: infectious disease, THERAPEUTICS: vaccine
Posted DateMar 31, 2015 12:05 PM


Gregory Smith*
Ekaterina Heldwein
Gary Pickard
Patricia Sollars


  • Live attenuated vaccines for varicella zoster virus (shingles)
  • Oncolytic vectors for cancer treatment 
  • Research reagent for studies of mammalian nervous system


  • Improves safety and efficacy compared to current live attenuated vaccines for VZV
  • Enables production of vaccines against herpes simplex virus 1 and 2


IP Status

Provisional patent application has been filed.

Marketing Contact

Gwendolyn Humphreys, PhD

Invention Associate 

(p) 847-467-0308