DermaVir: a novel topical vaccine for HIV/AIDS

J Invest Dermatol. 2005 Jan;124(1):160-9. doi: 10.1111/j.0022-202X.2004.23535.x.


Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) vaccines have the potential to improve antiretroviral drug treatment by inducing cytotoxic killing of HIV-infected cells. Prophylactic vaccines utilize new antigens to initiate immunity; however, in HIV-infected individuals the load of viral antigen is not the limiting factor for the restoration of immune responses. Here we describe a novel immunization strategy with DermaVir that improves viral antigen presentation using dendritic cells (DC). DermaVir contains a distinctive plasmid DNA expressing all HIV proteins except integrase to induce immune responses with broad specificity. The DNA is formulated to a mannosilated particle to target antigen-presenting cells and to protect the DNA from intracellular degradation. After topical application, DermaVir-transduced cells migrate from the skin to the draining lymph node and interdigitate as DermaVir-expressing, antigen-presenting DC. We compared the immunogenicity of topical and ex vivo DC-based DermaVir vaccinations in naive rhesus macaques. Both vaccinations induced simian immunodeficiency virus-specific CD4 helper and CD8 memory T cells detected by an in vivo skin test and an in vitro intracellular cytokine-based assay. Topical DermaVir vaccination represents an improvement upon existing ex vivo DC-based immunization technologies and may provide a new therapeutic option for HIV-infected patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • AIDS Vaccines / genetics
  • AIDS Vaccines / immunology*
  • AIDS Vaccines / pharmacology*
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / immunology
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / prevention & control*
  • Administration, Topical
  • Animals
  • Antigen Presentation / genetics
  • Antigen Presentation / immunology
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Viral / immunology
  • Lymph Nodes / cytology
  • Lymph Nodes / immunology
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Plasmids
  • Th1 Cells / immunology
  • Vaccination / methods


  • AIDS Vaccines