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Triple-vaccine strategy stimulates strong HIV-specific immune response in monkeys

PHILADELPHIA Researchers at The Wistar Institute and the University of Pennsylvania report success in monkeys of an innovative triple-vaccine strategy aimed at creating an effective anti-HIV vaccine regimen. In a test of the new approach, the scientists sought to maximize the immune response to a truncated HIV gene called Gag and succeeded in dramatically stimulating the production of CD8+ T cells responsive to Gag. Many scientists believe that CD8+ T cells will be an important key to creating an effective HIV vaccine.

"For a variety of reasons, it may not be possible to create a vaccine that generates antibodies able to neutralize HIV," says Hildegund C.J. Ertl, M.D., professor and immunology program leader at Wistar and senior author on the report published in the July issue of the Journal of Virology. "The next best thing may be to develop a vaccine that stimulates the production of anti-HIV CD8+ T cells, which have been shown in other studies to reduce viral load, although they do not prevent infection. The new vaccine regimen we tested induced unprecedented levels of CD8+ T cells in monkeys."

The experimental vaccines developed by Ertl and her colleagues take advantage of sophisticated bioengineering technologies and the special characteristics of a class of viruses called adenoviruses to create a series of three vaccines that, when given in sequence, build on each other to generate a stronger immune response than might otherwise be possible.

Many current vaccine development programs rely on human adenoviruses engineered to include elements from disease-causing agents, in part because adenoviruses are relatively easy to manipulate in the laboratory and readily enter a wide variety of cells, including important cells of the immune system, to stimulate a vigorous, long-lasting immune response.

A number of these vaccines based on common strains of human adenoviruses, including some against HIV, have returned positive results in ear
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Contact: Franklin Hoke
hoke@wistar.upenn.edu
215-898-3716
The Wistar Institute
8-Jul-2004


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