Study design: A randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled phase I trial.
Methods: The trial was conducted in 32 HIV-uninfected healthy volunteers to assess the safety and immunogenicity of prime-boost vaccination regimens with either 2 doses of ADVAX, a DNA vaccine containing Chinese HIV-1 subtype C env gp160, gag, pol and nef/tat genes, as a prime and 2 doses of TBC-M4, a recombinant MVA encoding Indian HIV-1 subtype C env gp160, gag, RT, rev, tat, and nef genes, as a boost in Group A or 3 doses of TBC-M4 alone in Group B participants. Out of 16 participants in each group, 12 received vaccine candidates and 4 received placebos.
Results: Both vaccine regimens were found to be generally safe and well tolerated. The breadth of anti-HIV binding antibodies and the titres of anti-HIV neutralizing antibodies were significantly higher (p<0.05) in Group B volunteers at 14 days post last vaccination. Neutralizing antibodies were detected mainly against Tier-1 subtype B and C viruses. HIV-specific IFN-γ ELISPOT responses were directed mostly to Env and Gag proteins. Although the IFN-γ ELISPOT responses were infrequent after ADVAX vaccinations, the response rate was significantly higher in group A after 1(st) and 2(nd) MVA doses as compared to the responses in group B volunteers. However, the priming effect was short lasting leading to no difference in the frequency, breadth and magnitude of IFN-γELISPOT responses between the groups at 3, 6 and 9 months post-last vaccination.
Conclusions: Although DNA priming resulted in enhancement of immune responses after 1(st) MVA boosting, the overall DNA prime MVA boost was not found to be immunologically superior to homologous MVA boosting.
Trial registration: Clinical Trial Registry CTRI/2009/091/000051.