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Hum Vaccin Immunother. 2012 May;8(5):569-81. doi: 10.4161/hv.19555. Epub 2012 May 1.

Therapeutic vaccines against HIV infection.

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Hospital Clinic-HIVACAT, IDIBAPS, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.


Resistance to medication, adverse effects in the medium-to-long-term and cost all place important limitations on lifelong adherence to combined antiretroviral therapy (cART). In this context, new therapeutic alternatives to 'cART for life' in HIV-infected patients merit investigation. Some data suggest that strong T cell-mediated immunity to HIV can indeed limit virus replication and protect against CD4 depletion and disease progression. The combination of cART with immune therapy to restore and/or boost immune-specific responses to HIV has been proposed, the ultimate aim being to achieve a 'functional cure'. In this scenario, new, induced, HIV-specific immune responses would be able to control viral replication to undetectable levels, mimicking the situation of the minority of patients who control viral replication without treatment and do not progress to AIDS. Classical approaches such as whole inactivated virus or recombinant protein initially proved useful as therapeutic vaccines. Overall, however, the ability of these early vaccines to increase HIV-specific responses was very limited and study results were discouraging, as no consistent immunogenicity was demonstrated and there was no clear impact on viral load. Recent years have seen the development of new approaches based on more innovative vectors such as DNA, recombinant virus or dendritic cells. Most clinical trials of these new vectors have demonstrated their ability to induce HIV-specific immune responses, although they show very limited efficacy in terms of controlling viral replication. However, some preliminary results suggest that dendritic cell-based vaccines are the most promising candidates. To improve the effectiveness of these vaccines, a better understanding of the mechanisms of protection, virological control and immune deterioration is required; without this knowledge, an efficacious therapeutic vaccine will remain elusive.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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