We describe here a single plasmid DNA immunogen representing the broadest antigen repertoire among HIV vaccine candidates. This pDNA was "ANTIGENeered" for the regulated expression of thirteen complete and two non-functional HIV protein antigens. These proteins self assemble into complex virus-like particles (VLP(+)). Multiple irreversible safety features were introduced by genetic modifications including the complete impairment of integration, reverse transcription, the function of Nef and the 3'LTR. Epitope analysis predicted that the pDNA-derived protein repertoire can potentially present over 3000 T cell epitopes. However, the expressed antigens have different potential to induce HIV-specific CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells supporting our hypothesis that HIV vaccines should contain all possible regulatory and structural proteins. This immunogen is the active pharmaceutical ingredient of DermaVir, a therapeutic vaccine product candidate that recently successfully completed Phase II clinical trials and meets the safety, immunogenicity and cost requirements of an HIV vaccine.
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