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The immunogenicity of an HIV-1 gag conserved element DNA vaccine in people with HIV and receiving antiretroviral therapy.

AIDS 2023 December 5
OBJECTIVE: The primary objective of the study was to assess the immunogenicity of an HIV-1 Gag conserved element DNA vaccine (p24CE DNA) in people with HIV (PWH) receiving suppressive antiretroviral therapy (ART).

DESIGN: AIDS Clinical Trials Group A5369 was a phase I/IIa, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of PWH receiving ART with plasma HIV-1 RNA less than 50 copies/ml, current CD4+ T-cell counts greater than 500 cells/μl, and nadir CD4+ T-cell counts greater than 350 cells/μl.

METHODS: The study enrolled 45 participants randomized 2 : 1 : 1 to receive p24CE DNA vaccine at weeks 0 and 4, followed by p24CE DNA admixed with full-length p55Gag DNA vaccine at weeks 12 and 24 (arm A); full-length p55Gag DNA vaccine at weeks 0, 4, 12, and 24 (arm B); or placebo at weeks 0, 4, 12, and 24 (arm c). The active and placebo vaccines were administered by intramuscular electroporation.

RESULTS: There was a modest, but significantly greater increase in the number of conserved elements recognized by CD4+ and/or CD8+ T cells in arm A compared with arm C (P = 0.014). The percentage of participants with an increased number of conserved elements recognized by T cells was also highest in arm A (8/18, 44.4%) vs. arm C (0/10, 0.0%) (P = 0.025). There were no significant differences between treatment groups in the change in magnitude of responses to total conserved elements.

CONCLUSION: A DNA-delivered HIV-1 Gag conserved element vaccine boosted by a combination of this vaccine with a full-length p55Gag DNA vaccine induced a new conserved element-directed cellular immune response in approximately half the treated PWH on ART.

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