Protection against chronic infections has necessitated the development of ever-more potent vaccination tools. HIV seems to be the most challenging foe, with a remarkable, poorly immunogenic and fragile surface glycoprotein and the ability to overpower the cell immune system. Virus-like-particle (VLP) vaccines have emerged as potent inducers of antibody and helper T cell responses, while replication-deficient viral vectors have yielded potent cytotoxic T cell responses. Here, we review the emerging concept of merging these two technologies into virus-like-vaccines (VLVs) for the targeting of HIV. Such vaccines are immunologically perceived as viruses, as they infect cells and produce VLPs in situ, but they only resemble viruses, as the replication defective vectors and VLPs cannot propagate an infection. The inherent safety of such a platform, despite robust particle production, is a distinct advantage over live-attenuated vaccines that must balance safety and immunogenicity. Previous studies have delivered VLVs encoded in modified Vaccinia Ankara vectors and we have developed the concept into a single-reading adenovirus-based technology capable of eliciting robust CD8+
T cells responses and trimer binding antibody responses. Such vaccines offer the potential to display the naturally produced immunogen directly and induce an integrated humoral and cellular immune response.
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