CAMBRIDGE, Mass., March 1, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- By 1999 Dr. Konstantin 'Gus' Kousoulas was a tenured professor and consultant. While he wasn't extremely wealthy, he considered himself successful and satisfied with where life was going. Still on his deathbed his 85-year-old father asked Kousoulas to evaluate his life.
Scientist hopes to fufill his father's challenge to do something positive for humanity and to help put an end to HSV.
"He turned to me and said, 'you know at some point in your life, you should do something important for humanity. You're so smart. People like you that are this smart, you should do something as opposed to just (making money)," Kousoulas said.
That conversation was a turning point for Kousoulas who has spent his years since studying vaccinology, particularly as it relates to live attenuated vaccines. His VC2 vaccine, which takes live viruses and modifies them so the body is able to recognize and fight them off without becoming sick, is showing promising results in the fight against herpes.
Kousoulas recently joined Rational Vaccines as vice president of Scientific Affairs where he will help to further the company's core mission of eliminating the herpes simplex virus (HSV).
"Dr. Kousoulas is one of the world's most eminent virologists. His work in the field of HSV gives hopes to the millions of patients who are in desperate need of a better standard of care and to all of us who work to defeat this heinous virus," said Rational Vaccines CEO Agustin Fernandez. "No one understands this virus better than Gus. His addition to the team brings us one step closer to our goal of eradicating the Herpes pandemic."
Kousoulas received his master's and doctorate degrees from Pennsylvania State University in Biophysics and Molecular Cell Biology, respectively. He received postdoctoral training under Dr. Bernard Roizman at the University of Chicago and with Dr. Lenore Pereira at the University of California at San Francisco. Kousoulas is a professor of virology and biotechnology in the Louisiana State University Department of Pathobiological Sciences and director of the Division of Biotechnology and Molecular Medicine (BioMMED).
Kousoulas' research focuses primarily on the molecular biology and the immunopathogenesis of human herpes viruses. He has also constructed and patented herpes simplex viruses that have been shown to be highly effective as preventative and therapeutic vaccines for herpes genital and ocular infections. His research shows promise for cancer immunotherapy approaches in animal models as well.
Kousoulas said he is excited to join the Rational team because of the company's commitment to live attenuated research and to those suffering from HSV-1 and HSV-2. It was as a young scientist he first began to understand the impact herpes has on everyday people. He was one of a handful of doctoral students invited to participate in a sexually transmitted disease training program at the University of California in San Francisco where he got to work directly with patients.
"It's very different working in the lab and seeing things in cells than actually seeing a real disease in a human being and the suffering that's associated with that," he said.
Kousoulas hopes he can answer his father's question in his own lifetime and end herpes. In the meantime, he'll continue to focus on the overall mission—to do something positive for humanity.
About Rational Vaccines
Rational Vaccines develops rationally engineered, live attenuated viral immunotherapeutic and prophylactic vaccine candidates, particularly focused on combating all diseases resulting from herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) infections. Led by our team of world-renowned scientists and closely following all regulatory guidelines, the company currently has seven vaccine candidates in the pipeline. We are confident our team and technology will revolutionize the treatment, prevention, and diagnosis of herpes and herpes-related diseases so we can bring hope and healing to a world suffering from these recurring infections. Based in Cambridge, MA, Rational Vx is also joining the battle against COVID-19 with a serological assay currently in development, and a future COVID-19 vaccine planned.
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SOURCE Rational Vaccines