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SIV/HIV Vaccines: Detecting Efficacy and Explaining Inefficacy
Framework programme:
Project number:
EC contribution:
€ 1 778 342
36 months
Starting date:
1 February 2000

Keywords: Mucosal immunity; live attenuated vaccine; dendritic cell-based vaccine; immunopathology; viral load; complement; cytokine; lymph node; thymus; central nervous system


The aim of this project has been to describe immune mechanisms that can impede replication of a wild type SIV during primary infection at the site of virus exposure and prevent the spread of infection in vaccinated rhesus macaques. Evaluation of early events that occur in situ in the tissue combined with in vitro studies will allow identification of important mechanisms of vaccine-induced immunity that could be missed in long-term experiments. Such knowledge would direct research activities toward the design of more efficient vaccines.


The disease caused by HIV is an important public health problem, especially in the developing world. Therapeutic approaches that have been developed over the last several years have sharply reduced the pain, illness and mortality associated with HIV/AIDS in the industrialised countries.  However, it is now clear that the drugs used today are not sufficient to eradicate the virus. Life-long therapy is required to keep HIV replication at a very low level. Chemotherapy does not suppress virus replication in all patients due to the emergence of drug-resistant HIV variants. Therefore, antiretroviral therapy is likely to have a limited effect on containing AIDS. The development of an effective HIV-1 vaccine is one of the most urgent problems. Vaccines should prevent or dampen virus replication during primary infection. Mechanisms by which vaccination controls replication of the wild-type virus at the portal of entry, especially at mucosal surfaces, are not well understood. Therefore, the key issue is to study early events in lymphoid tissues as an index of how well the immune system initially contains the virus at the site of entry.

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