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Skin Problems & Treatments Health Center

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6 Genes Linked to Frequent Cold Sores

Discovery of Cold Sore Genes May Make a Good Target for New Drugs
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Jan. 31, 2008 -- Six genes may make frequent outbreaks of cold sores more likely, University of Utah researchers report.

That cold sore gene discovery may lead to new drugs to treat cold sores caused by the herpes simplex virus, say Maurine Hobbs, PhD, and colleagues.

Hobbs' team studied DNA from 421 people in 39 Utah families. Participants reported how often they got cold sores (also called fever blisters).

Participants were also tested for herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1), which causes most cold sores. Many people carry that virus, but not all of them get cold sores.

Hobbs' team identified six genes linked to frequent cold sore outbreaks. Those six genes are all found on the same chromosome, and three of them may help reactivate the herpes virus, paving the way for cold sores, Hobbs and colleagues write.

Their findings appear in The Journal of Infectious Diseases.

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