Researchers have been working unsuccessfully for years to find ways to prevent or treat herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection. Most scientists agree that HSV can't be cured because, once present, the virus genome hides in the nuclei of nerve cells, remaining latent and then reinfecting the body periodically. But receptors have been identified that play a role in viral particles' entry into cells, and therapies that target this aspect of viral activity perhaps could be taken chronically to prevent reinfection episodes.

Researchers at Northwestern University Medical Center (Chicago, Ill.) and colleagues reported in Science that a newly identified member of the immunoglobulin superfamily, HveC, mediates the entry into cells of a number of alphaherpesviruses including HSV 1 and 2. HveC is expressed in human epithelial cells and neurons.