I wrote an e-mail to Bryan R. Cullen, Ph.D. Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology Director, Duke University Center for Virology He is the one who over-saw the research done this year. I inquired about how the public could help fund his research, and here was his response: "Dear Mr. xxx, Thank you for your interest in our research. As there have been many enquiries as to how this progressing, I have drafterd a general statement of where we are at this point (see below). Although I am encouraged by how things are going, it will undoubtedly be years before we can proceed from animals to clinical testing in humans and this will require extensive funding. Therefore, I am grateful for your interest in helping to support our research and I will pass your name on to the responsible individual here at Duke. Hopefully, you will be contacted soon. Best wishes, Bryan R. Cullen, Ph.D. We have received a considerable number of e-mails that have asked questions about the report we recently published in the scientific journal "Nature." This report received extensive press coverage, some of it misleading. We will briefly answer some of the most common questions that we have been asked, and particularly how our work relates to a new treatment for cold sores, caused by Herpes Simplex Virus 1 (HSV-1), or genital ulcers, caused by the related but distinct HSV-2. We also attach the press release issued by Duke University Medical Center, which was the basis for all the press reports. 1) What have you accomplished? Our work provides, for the first time, a molecular understanding of how HSV-1 establishes a life-long latent infection in the nerve cells of the face, and how it reactivates from latency to cause cold sores. 2) Have you developed a new treatment for cold sores? The work we have performed provides a basis for the development of anti-HSV-1 drugs that might be able to permanently clear HSV-1 from patients. 3) Are these drugs being used on people? No, we are currently initiating trials in mice to study efficacy and toxicity. 4) When might this drug reach the clinical trial stage? We anticipate approximately 2 years of animal experiments in mice followed by approximately 1 year of toxicity studies in other animals, followed by small studies in healthy volunteers. After that, assuming things go well, this drug might proceed to clinical trials in HSV-1 infected individuals. It is very possible that the drug candidate might fall out at any of these stages, due to lack of effectiveness or some unanticipated side effect. 5) How does this relate to HSV-2, which causes genital herpes? All our work so far has been on HSV-1, the cold sore virus, but HSV-2 is quite closely related. We have begun work to see if the lessons we have learned in HSV-1 also apply to HSV-2, and should know this by the end of the year. If these lessons do hold, then we might hope to start animal trials for an anti-HSV-2 drug in early 2009. However, our initial data indicate that HSV-1 and HSV-2 will require distinct drug therapies. 6) What can I use to treat chronic HSV-1-induced cold sores or HSV-2-induced genital ulcers now? All treatment decisions should be made in consulation with your physician, and no general guidelines will apply to everybody. While there are no drugs that attack latent herpes viruses, three closely related prescription drugs (Zovirax/acyclovir; Famvir/famciclovir and Valtrex/valacyclovir) are potent inhibitors of active virus that work quite well and that you might discuss with your physician. We hope this information answers your questions and is helpful. Please be assured that we are continuing to work on the problem of developing novel HSV-1 and HSV-2 treatment approaches. Sincerely, Bryan R. Cullen Jennifer Lin Umbach" I will keep you updated on whether I am contacted by the person who is in charge of the funding, as I should be contacted soon.