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1.  Acceptability and Feasibility of Repeated Mucosal Specimen Collection in Clinical Trial Participants in Kenya 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e110228.
Mucosal specimens are essential to evaluate compartmentalized immune responses to HIV vaccine candidates and other mucosally targeted investigational products. We studied the acceptability and feasibility of repeated mucosal sampling in East African clinical trial participants at low risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
Methods and Findings
The Kenya AIDS Vaccine Initiative (KAVI) enrolled participants into three Phase 1 trials of preventive HIV candidate vaccines in 2011–2012 at two clinical research centers in Nairobi. After informed consent to a mucosal sub-study, participants were asked to undergo collection of mucosal secretions (saliva, oral fluids, semen, cervico-vaginal and rectal), but could opt out of any collection at any visit. Specimens were collected at baseline and two additional time points. A tolerability questionnaire was administered at the final sub-study visit. Of 105 trial participants, 27 of 34 women (79%) and 62 of 71 men (87%) enrolled in the mucosal sub-study. Nearly all sub-study participants gave saliva and oral fluids at all visits. Semen was collected from about half the participating men (47–48%) at all visits. Cervico-vaginal secretions were collected by Softcup from about two thirds of women (63%) at baseline, increasing to 78% at the following visits, with similar numbers for cervical secretion collection by Merocel sponge; about half of women (52%) gave cervico-vaginal samples at all visits. Rectal secretions were collected with Merocel sponge from about a quarter of both men and women (24%) at all 3 visits, with 16% of men and 19% of women giving rectal samples at all visits.
Repeated mucosal sampling in clinical trial participants in Kenya is feasible, with a good proportion of participants consenting to most sampling methods with the exception of rectal samples. Experienced staff members of both sexes and trained counselors with standardized messaging may improve acceptance of rectal sampling.
PMCID: PMC4215886  PMID: 25360819
2.  Safety and Immunogenicity of DNA Prime and Modified Vaccinia Ankara Virus-HIV Subtype C Vaccine Boost in Healthy Adults 
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase I trial was conducted in 32 HIV-uninfected healthy volunteers to assess the safety and immunogenicity of 3 doses of DNA vaccine (Advax) plus 1 dose of recombinant modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) (TBC-M4) or 3 doses of TBC-M4 alone (groups A and B, respectively). Both vaccine regimens were found to be safe and well tolerated. Gamma interferon (IFN-γ) enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot (ELISPOT) assay responses were detected in 1/10 (10%) individuals in group A after three Advax primes and in 9/9 individuals (100%) after the MVA boost. In group B, IFN-γ ELISPOT responses were detected in 6/12 (50%) and 7/11 (64%) individuals after the second and third MVA vaccinations, respectively. Responses to all vaccine components, but predominantly to Env, were seen. The breadth and magnitude of the T cell response and viral inhibition were greater in group A than in group B, indicating that the quality of the T-cell response was enhanced by the DNA prime. Intracellular cytokine staining indicated that the T-cell responses were polyfunctional but were skewed toward Env with a CD4+ phenotype. At 2 weeks after the last vaccination, HIV-specific antibody responses were detected in all (100%) group B and 1/11 (9.1%) group A vaccinees. Vaccinia virus-specific responses were detected in all (100%) group B and 2/11 (18.2%) group A vaccinees. In conclusion, HIV-specific T-cell responses were seen in the majority of volunteers in groups A and B but with a trend toward greater quality of the T-cell response in group A. Antibody responses were better in group B than in group A.
PMCID: PMC3592345  PMID: 23345581
3.  Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Elite Neutralizers: Individuals with Broad and Potent Neutralizing Activity Identified by Using a High-Throughput Neutralization Assay together with an Analytical Selection Algorithm▿ † 
Journal of Virology  2009;83(14):7337-7348.
The development of a rapid and efficient system to identify human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)-infected individuals with broad and potent HIV-1-specific neutralizing antibody responses is an important step toward the discovery of critical neutralization targets for rational AIDS vaccine design. In this study, samples from HIV-1-infected volunteers from diverse epidemiological regions were screened for neutralization responses using pseudovirus panels composed of clades A, B, C, and D and circulating recombinant forms (CRFs). Initially, 463 serum and plasma samples from Australia, Rwanda, Uganda, the United Kingdom, and Zambia were screened to explore neutralization patterns and selection ranking algorithms. Samples were identified that neutralized representative isolates from at least four clade/CRF groups with titers above prespecified thresholds and ranked based on a weighted average of their log-transformed neutralization titers. Linear regression methods selected a five-pseudovirus subset, representing clades A, B, and C and one CRF01_AE, that could identify top-ranking samples with 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) neutralization titers of ≥100 to multiple isolates within at least four clade groups. This reduced panel was then used to screen 1,234 new samples from the Ivory Coast, Kenya, South Africa, Thailand, and the United States, and 1% were identified as elite neutralizers. Elite activity is defined as the ability to neutralize, on average, more than one pseudovirus at an IC50 titer of 300 within a clade group and across at least four clade groups. These elite neutralizers provide promising starting material for the isolation of broadly neutralizing monoclonal antibodies to assist in HIV-1 vaccine design.
PMCID: PMC2704778  PMID: 19439467

Results 1-3 (3)