Purpose of review: To discuss recent progress in the use of vectors to produce antibodies in vivo as an alternative form of HIV prophylaxis or therapy. Instead of passive transfer of monoclonal antibody proteins, a transgene encoding an antibody is delivered to cells by the vector, resulting in expression and secretion by the host cell. This review will emphasize adeno-associated virus (AAV)-based strategies and summarize the evidence in support of this strategy as an alternative to traditional vaccines. We will highlight the major findings in the field and discuss the impact that this approach could have on the prevention, treatment and possibly eradication of HIV in patients.
Recent findings: In this emerging field, the emphasis has been on the use of vectors delivering antibodies as an alternative to the development of an HIV vaccine. However, recent findings suggest that AAV-delivered broadly neutralizing antibodies can suppress HIV replication. As such, a single injection of AAV could mediate long-term antibody expression to act as a long-lived therapeutic in the absence of antiretroviral drugs.
Summary: Vector-mediated antibody expression can both prevent transmission and inhibit the replication of established HIV infections. As such, it offers an alternative to immunogen-based vaccine design and a novel therapeutic intervention by enabling precise manipulation of humoral immunity. Success may enable not only the development of effective prevention against HIV but may also provide an alternative to a lifetime of antiretroviral drugs taken by those who are already infected.