The RV 144 HIV vaccine efficacy study showed a reduction in HIV-1 infection risk in Thai volunteers who received two priming vaccinations of vCP1521 ALVAC (attenuated recombinant canarypox virus expressing HIV group–specific antigen, polymerase, and envelope genes) followed by two additional ALVAC vaccinations and coadministration of purified bivalent gp120 proteins (AIDSVAX B/E). In this issue of the JCI, Rouphael et al. build on these results by substituting a DNA plasmid cocktail expressing HIV-1 subtype C group–specific antigen, polymerase, and envelope antigen genes (DNA-HIV-PT123) for ALVAC in a phase 1b safety and immunogenicity study. The results indicate that the vaccine regimen is safe, elicits promising cross-subtype humoral and cellular responses, and opens up potentially simplified approaches to HIV-1 vaccine development.
Nelson L. Michael