HIV-1 vaccine immunogen design strategies

An effective human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) vaccine is expected to have the greatest impact on HIV-1 spread and remains a global scientific priority. Only one candidate vaccine has significantly reduced HIV-1 acquisition, yet at a limited efficacy of 31%, and none have delayed disease progression in vaccinated individuals. Thus, the challenge remains to develop HIV-1 immunogens that will elicit protective immunity. A combination of two independent approaches - namely the elicitation of broadly neutralising antibodies (bNAb) to prevent or reduce acquisition of infection and stimulation of effective cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) responses to slow disease progression in breakthrough infections (recent evidence suggests that CTLs could also block HIV-1 from establishing persistent infection) - is the current ideal. The purpose of this review is to summarise strategies and progress in the design and testing of HIV-1 immunogens to elicit bNAb and protective CTL immune responses. Recent advances in mimicking the functional native envelope trimer structure and in designing structurally-stabilised bNAb epitope forms to drive development of germline precursors to mature bNAb are highlighted. Systematic or computational approaches to T cell immunogen design aimed at covering viral diversity, increasing the breadth of immune responses and/or reducing viable viral escape are discussed. We also discuss a recent novel vaccine vector approach shown to induce extremely broad and persistent T cell responses that could clear highly pathogenic simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) early after infection in the monkey model. While in vitro and animal model data are promising, Phase II and III human clinical trials are ultimately needed to determine the efficacy of immunogen design approaches.

JK Mann
T Ndung'u
Virol J
Publication Date: 
January, 2015
IBN number: