Virology 2006 Apr 24;348(1):200-15. Epub 2006 Jan 24.
PowderJect Vaccines, Inc., Middleton, WI 53562, USA.
DNA immunization in conjunction with antiretroviral therapy was evaluated in SIV-infected rhesus macaques treated with [R]-9-[2-phosphonylmethoxypropyl]adenine (PMPA). Macaques were immunized monthly with DNA vaccines expressing either SIV gag/tat or SIV gag/tat and 19 CD8+ T cell epitopes during 7 months of therapy. Half the animals from each group were additionally immunized before infection. Only 60% of the animals (4 controls, 20 vaccinated) responded to PMPA (ART responders). All 4 ART responder controls demonstrated viral rebound or CD4 decline after PMPA was withdrawn. In contrast, 17 of 20 vaccinated ART responders contained viral rebound for over 7 months after PMPA was withdrawn. Viral control correlated with stable CD4 counts, higher lymphoproliferation and an increase in the magnitude and breadth of the CD8+ T cell response. Immunizing before infection or with multi-epitopes enhanced these effects. These results demonstrate that DNA immunization during antiretroviral therapy may be an effective strategy to treat HIV infection.