Evaluation of novel HIV vaccine candidates using recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus vector produced in serum-free Vero cell cultures


Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in humans is a result of the destruction of the immune system caused by Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection. This serious epidemic is still progressing world-wide. Despite advances in treatment, a safe and effective preventive HIV vaccine is desired to combat this disease, and to save millions of lives. However, such a vaccine is not available yet although extensive amounts of resources in research and development have been invested over three decades. In light of the recently approved Ebola virus disease vaccine based on a recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (rVSV-ZEBOV), we present the results of our work on three novel VSV-vectored HIV vaccine candidates. We describe the design, rescue, production and purification method and evaluate their immunogenicity in mice prior to preclinical studies that will be performed in non-human primates. The production of each of the three candidate vaccines (rVSV-B6-NL4.3Env/SIVtm, rVSV-B6-NL4.3Env/Ebtm and rVSV-B6-A74Env(PN6)/SIVtm) was evaluated in small scale in Vero cells and it was found that production kinetics on Vero cells vary depending on the HIV gp surface protein used. Purified virus preparations complied with the WHO restrictions for the residual DNA and host cell protein contents. Finally, when administered to mice, all three rVSV-HIV vaccine candidates induced an HIV gp140-specific antibody response.