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Single-Dose HIV DNA Vaccine Produces Specific Immunity in Primates

For the first time, researchers have shown that a single-dose HIV DNA vaccine can induce a long-lasting HIV-specific immune response in nonhuman primates, a discovery that could prove significant in the development of HIV vaccines. "Our comprehensive analysis demonstrated for the first time the capacity of a single high dose of HIV DNA vaccine alone to induce long-lasting and polyfunctional T-cell responses in the nonhuman primate model, bringing new insights for the design of future HIV vaccines," said the researchers from Emory University in the United States and the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique in France. HIV is persistently spreading at epidemic rates throughout the world, emphasizing the need for a vaccine that can substantially reduce viral loads and minimize transmission. In a previous study, the research team had successfully induced long-lasting and potent HIV-specific immune responses in mice following immunization with a single-dose SHIV DNA-based vaccine. SHIV is a virus that combines genes from HIV in a genetic background of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV). In the current study, rhesus macaques were immunized with a single high dose of the SHIV DNA-based vaccine and monitored for vaccine-induced immune responses. Results showed that all immunized monkeys developed broad HIV-specific T-cell immune responses that persisted for months. The researchers detailed their findings in the February 2010 issue of the Journal of Virology. [Press release] [J. Virology abstract]