Therapeutic immunization has been proposed as an approach that might help limit the need for lifelong combined antiretroviral therapy (cART). One approach for therapeutic vaccination which has been explored during the last few years is the administration of autologous monocyte-derived DCs (MD-DCs) loaded ex vivo with a variety of antigens. It has been shown in experimental murine models as well as in cancer patients and in patients with chronic infections that this approach can induce and potentiate antigen-specific T-cell response (and to induce a potent protective immunity). Contrary to the wide experience with this strategy in cancer, in HIV-1 infection the experience is limited and the design of the clinical trials varies greatly between groups. This variability affects all the steps of the process, from preparation of immunogen and DCs to clinical trial design and immune monitoring. Although both the study designs and the DC preparation (the maturation stimuli and the identity and source of HIV-1 antigens used to pulse DCs) varied in most of the studies that were published so far, overall the results indicate that DC immunotherapy elicits some degree of immunological response. To address this situation and to allow comparison between trials a panel of experts working in DC-based clinical trials in HIV-1 infection met in Barcelona at the end of 2010. During this meeting, the participants shared the data of their current research activities in this field in order to unify criteria for the future. This report summarizes the present situation of the field and the discussions and conclusions of this meeting.
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