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Keywords:

  • HIV;
  • Immunogenicity;
  • Poxvirus;
  • Therapeutic vaccine

We report the results of the Theravac-01 phase I trial, which was conducted to evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of a poxvirus-based vector, NYVAC, expressing Gag, Pol, Nef, and Env from an HIV clade B isolate. NYVAC-B vaccine was injected intra-muscularly into ten HIV-infected patients successfully treated with antiretroviral therapy, twice on day 0 and again at week 4. Safety and immunogenicity were monitored for 48 weeks. HIV-specific T-cell responses following immunization were quantitatively analyzed using an IFN-γ ELISPOT assay and qualitatively characterized for their functional profile (including multiple cytokines secretion plus cytotoxic and proliferation capacity) by polychromatic flow cytometry. Our results indicate that the NYVAC-B vaccine is safe and highly immunogenic, as indicated by increased HIV-specific T-cell responses in virtually all vaccinees. Interestingly, both an expansion of preexisting T-cell responses, and the appearance of newly detected HIV-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell responses were observed. Furthermore, immunization mostly induced an increase in Gag-specific T-cell responses. In conclusion, NYVAC-B immunization induces broad, vigorous, and polyfunctional HIV-specific T-cell responses, suggesting that poxvirus-based vaccine regimens may be instrumental in the therapeutic HIV vaccine field.