To evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of a candidate HIV DNA vaccine administered using a needle-free device.
In this phase 1, dose escalation, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, 21 healthy adults were randomized to receive placebo or 0.5, 1.5, or 4 mg of a single plasmid expressing a Gag/Pol fusion protein. Each participant received repeat immunizations at days 28 and 56 after the first inoculation. Safety and immunogenicity data were collected.
The vaccine was well tolerated, with most adverse events being mild injection site reactions, including pain, tenderness, and erythema. No dose-limiting toxicities occurred. HIV-specific antibody response was not detected in any vaccinee by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. HIV-specific T-cell responses to Gag or Pol as measured by enzyme-linked immunospot assay and intracellular cytokine staining were of low frequency and magnitude.
This candidate HIV DNA vaccine was safe and well tolerated. No HIV-specific antibody responses were detected, and only low-magnitude HIV-specific T-cell responses were detected in 8 (53%) of 15 vaccinees. This initial product led to the development of a 4-plasmid multiclade HIV DNA Vaccine Research Center vaccine candidate in which envelope genes expressing Env from clades A, B, and C and a Nef gene from clade B have been added.
Keywords: CD4+ T-cell immune response, gene delivery, immunization, needle-free device, plasmid vaccine, safety