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Hum Vaccin Immunother. 2012 Nov 1;8(11):1595-606. doi: 10.4161/hv.21225. Epub 2012 Aug 24.

Preclinical evaluation of the immunogenicity and safety of plasmid DNA-based prophylactic vaccines for human cytomegalovirus.

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Vical Incorporated; San Diego, CA, USA.


Human cytomegalovirus (CMV) establishes a lifelong persistent infection characterized by periods of latency and sporadic viral replication and is a major infectious cause of birth defects following congenital infection. Currently, no licensed vaccine is available that would prevent CMV infection. In an effort to develop a prophylactic CMV vaccine, the effects of different formulations, immunization routes and delivery devices on the immunogenicity of plasmid DNA (pDNA)-based vaccines were evaluated in rabbits and mice. Compared with PBS- and poloxamer-based formulations, significantly higher antibody responses were obtained with pDNA formulated with Vaxfectin (®) , a cationic lipid-based adjuvant. With low vaccine doses, the intradermal (ID) route resulted in higher antibody responses than obtained when the same dose was administered intramuscularly (IM). Since the IM route allowed injection of larger volumes and higher doses than could be administered at a single ID site, better antibody responses were obtained using the IM route. The needle-free injection system Biojector (®) 2000 and electroporation devices enhanced antibody responses only marginally compared with responses obtained with Vaxfectin (®) -formulated pDNA injected IM with a needle. A single-vial Vaxfectin (®) formulation was developed in a dosage form ready for use after thawing at room temperature. Finally, in a GLP-compliant repeat-dose toxicology study conducted in rabbits, single-vial Vaxfectin (®) -formulated vaccines, containing pDNA and Vaxfectin (®) up to 4.5 mg and 2 mg/injection, respectively, showed a favorable safety profile and were judged as well-tolerated. The results support further development of a Vaxfectin (®) -formulated pDNA vaccine to target congenital CMV infection.


Vaxfectin®; adjuvant; congenital CMV; cytomegalovirus vaccine; plasmid DNA

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