Purpose of review: A major focus in HIV vaccine research is the development of suitable antigens that elicit broadly neutralizing antibody responses targeting HIV's envelope protein (Env). Delivery of Env in a repetitive manner on particle-based carriers allows higher avidity interactions and is therefore expected to efficiently engage B cells, thus leading to affinity maturation that results in superior antibody responses characterized by improved breadth, potency, and durability. This review summarizes current work that is evaluating diverse types of such particulate carriers for Env delivery.
Recent findings: Various types of particle scaffolds are being investigated, encompassing group-specific antigen-derived virus-like particles, bacteria-derived proteins that self-assemble into symmetrical nanoparticles, as well as liposomes assembled from membrane components and recombinantly produced Env isoforms. Env-derived antigens from peptides over selected isolates to improved, stabilized next-generation designer Envs have been attached to such carriers. Immunological evaluation in animal models showed that these structures often elicit superior humoral immune responses.
Summary: The findings reviewed here emphasize the potential of particle-based delivery modalities to elicit better antibody responses. Together with advances in Env antigen design, these approaches may synergistically act together on the way to obtain vaccine candidates that potentially induce protective immune responses against HIV.