BACKGROUND: Vaccination with inactivated (killed) whole-virus particles has been used to prevent a wide range of viral diseases. However, for an HIV vaccine this approach has been largely negated due to inherent safety concerns, despite the ability of killed whole-virus vaccines to generate a strong, predominantly antibody-mediated immune response in vivo. HIV-1 Clade B NL4-3 was genetically modified by deleting the nef and vpu genes and substituting the coding sequence for the Env signal peptide with that of honeybee melittin signal peptide to produce a less virulent and more replication efficient virus. This genetically modified virus (gmHIV-1NL4-3) was inactivated and formulated as a killed whole-HIV vaccine, and then used for a Phase I human clinical trial (Trial Registration: Clinical Trials NCT01546818). The gmHIV-1NL4-3 was propagated in the A3.01 human T cell line followed by virus purification and inactivation with aldrithiol-2 and γ-irradiation. Thirty-three HIV-1 positive volunteers receiving cART were recruited for this observer-blinded, placebo-controlled Phase I human clinical trial to assess the safety and immunogenicity.
RESULTS: Genetically modified and killed whole-HIV-1 vaccine, SAV001, was well tolerated with no serious adverse events. HIV-1NL4-3-specific PCR showed neither evidence of vaccine virus replication in the vaccine virus-infected human T lymphocytes in vitro nor in the participating volunteers receiving SAV001 vaccine. Furthermore, SAV001 with adjuvant significantly increased the pre-existing antibody response to HIV-1 proteins. Antibodies in the plasma of vaccinees were also found to recognize HIV-1 envelope protein on the surface of infected cells as well as showing an enhancement of broadly neutralizing antibodies inhibiting tier I and II of HIV-1 B, D, and A subtypes.
CONCLUSION: The killed whole-HIV vaccine, SAV001, is safe and triggers anti-HIV immune responses. It remains to be determined through an appropriate trial whether this immune response prevents HIV infection.
- AIDS Vaccines/administration & dosage
- Antibodies, Neutralizing/blood
- Gene Products, nef/genetics
- HIV Antibodies/blood
- HIV Infections/immunology
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus Proteins/genetics
- Immunogenicity, Vaccine
- Middle Aged
- Protein Sorting Signals
- Vaccines, Inactivated/administration & dosage
- Viral Regulatory and Accessory Proteins/genetics
- Young Adult