A randomised, placebo-controlled, first-in-human study of a novel clade C therapeutic peptide vaccine administered ex vivo to autologous white blood cells in HIV infected individuals.
Jackson A., Kløverpris HN., Boffito M., Handley A., Atkins M., Hayes P., Gilmour J., Riddel L., Chen F., Bailey-Tippets M., Walker B., Ackland J., Sullivan M., Goulder P.
BACKGROUND: Preclinical studies of overlapping 15mer peptides, spanning SIV, SHIV or HIV, pulsed on autologous PBMC ex vivo have demonstrated high level, virus-specific T cell responses and viral suppression in non-human primates (NHP). Opal-HIV-Gag(c) consists of 120 synthetic 15mer peptides spanning Clade C, consensus Gag, manufactured to current good manufacturing practice; having been evaluated in a good laboratory practice toxicology study in Macaca mulatta. We evaluated the safety and preliminary immunogenicity of such peptides administered intravenously after short-duration ex vivo incubation, to HIV-positive adults on suppressive antiretroviral therapy. METHODS AND FINDINGS: A first-in-human, placebo-controlled, double-blind, dose escalation study was conducted. Twenty-three patients with virus suppressed by antiretroviral therapy were enrolled in four groups 12 mg (n = 6), 24 mg (n = 6), 48 mg (n = 2) or matching placebo (n = 8). Treatment was administered intravenously after bedside enrichment of 120 mL whole blood for white cells using a closed system (Sepax S-100 device), with ex vivo peptide admixture (or diluent alone) and 37°C incubation for one hour prior to reinfusion. Patients received 4 administrations at monthly intervals followed by a 12-week observation post-treatment. Opal-HIV-Gag(c) was reasonably tolerated at doses of 12 and 24 mg. There was an increased incidence of temporally associated pyrexia, chills, and transient/self-limiting lymphopenia in Opal-HIV-Gag(c) recipients compared to placebo. The study was terminated early, after two patients were recruited to the 48 mg cohort; a serious adverse event of hypotension, tachycardia secondary to diarrhoea occurred following a single product administration. An infectious cause for the event could not be identified, leaving the possibility of immunologically mediated product reaction. CONCLUSIONS: A serious, potentially life-threatening event of hypotension led to early, precautionary termination of the study. In the absence of a clearly defined mechanism or ability to predict such occurrence, further development of Opal-HIV-Gag(c) will not be undertaken in the current form. REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01123915; EudraCT: 2008-005142-23.