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Vaccine. 2009 Jul 30;27(35):4857-66. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2009.05.064. Epub 2009 Jun 9.

A prime-boost immunisation regimen using recombinant BCG and Pr55(gag) virus-like particle vaccines based on HIV type 1 subtype C successfully elicits Gag-specific responses in baboons.

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Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Anzio Road, Observatory, Cape Town, South Africa.


Mycobacterium bovis BCG is considered an attractive live bacterial vaccine vector. In this study, we investigated the immune response of baboons to a primary vaccination with recombinant BCG (rBCG) constructs expressing the gag gene from a South African HIV-1 subtype C isolate, and a boost with HIV-1 subtype C Pr55(gag) virus-like particles (Gag VLPs). Using an interferon enzyme-linked immunospot assay, we show that although these rBCG induced only a weak or an undetectable HIV-1 Gag-specific response on their own, they efficiently primed for a Gag VLP boost, which strengthened and broadened the immune responses. These responses were predominantly CD8+ T cell-mediated and recognised similar epitopes as those targeted by humans with early HIV-1 subtype C infection. In addition, a Gag-specific humoral response was elicited. These data support the development of HIV-1 vaccines based on rBCG and Pr55(gag) VLPs.

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