Vectored Immunotherapeutics for Infectious Diseases: Can rAAVs Be The Game Changers for Fighting Transmissible Pathogens?

Front Immunol. 2021 May 11:12:673699. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2021.673699. eCollection 2021.


Conventional vaccinations and immunotherapies have encountered major roadblocks in preventing infectious diseases like HIV, influenza, and malaria. These challenges are due to the high genomic variation and immunomodulatory mechanisms inherent to these diseases. Passive transfer of broadly neutralizing antibodies may offer partial protection, but these treatments require repeated dosing. Some recombinant viral vectors, such as those based on lentiviruses and adeno-associated viruses (AAVs), can confer long-term transgene expression in the host after a single dose. Particularly, recombinant (r)AAVs have emerged as favorable vectors, given their high in vivo transduction efficiency, proven clinical efficacy, and low immunogenicity profiles. Hence, rAAVs are being explored to deliver recombinant antibodies to confer immunity against infections or to diminish the severity of disease. When used as a vaccination vector for the delivery of antigens, rAAVs enable de novo synthesis of foreign proteins with the conformation and topology that resemble those of natural pathogens. However, technical hurdles like pre-existing immunity to the rAAV capsid and production of anti-drug antibodies can reduce the efficacy of rAAV-vectored immunotherapies. This review summarizes rAAV-based prophylactic and therapeutic strategies developed against infectious diseases that are currently being tested in pre-clinical and clinical studies. Technical challenges and potential solutions will also be discussed.

Keywords: adeno-associated virus; gene therapy; immunotherapy; vaccines; vectors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Communicable Diseases / therapy*
  • Dependovirus*
  • Genetic Vectors*
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Vaccines


  • Vaccines