Therapeutic AIDS vaccines

Curr Pharm Des. 2006;12(16):2017-30. doi: 10.2174/138161206777442119.


Therapeutic HIV vaccines represent promising strategy as an adjunct or alternative to current antiretroviral treatment options for HIV. Unlike prophylactic AIDS vaccines designed to prevent HIV infection, therapeutic vaccines are given to already infected individuals to help fight the disease by modulating their immune response. The first immunotherapeutic trial in AIDS patients was conducted in 1983. Since then several dozen conventional therapeutic vaccine trials have been carried out. Unfortunately, the results have consistently shown that while HIV-specific immune responses were evident as a result of vaccination, the clinical improvement has been seldom observed. The instances of the apparent clinical benefit were invariably associated with unconventional vaccines that acted in accord with the principles of alloimmunization and/or autologous vaccination. All such vaccines were derived from the blood of HIV carriers or a cell culture and thus they inherently contained allo- or self-antigens unrelated to HIV. This intriguing observation raises the issue whether this clinically successful approach has been unduly neglected. The current strategy biased toward vaccines, which have shown little evidence of clinical efficacy, needs to be diversified and supplemented with research on alternative vaccine approaches geared toward immune tolerance induction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • AIDS Vaccines / immunology
  • AIDS Vaccines / therapeutic use*
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • HIV / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy, Active / methods*
  • Immunotherapy, Active / trends
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / immunology
  • Vaccines, DNA / immunology
  • Vaccines, DNA / therapeutic use
  • Viral Proteins / immunology


  • AIDS Vaccines
  • Cytokines
  • Vaccines, DNA
  • Viral Proteins