Indexed on: 14 Feb '06Published on: 14 Feb '06Published in: Journal of virology
All current human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) vaccine candidates contain multiple viral components and elicit antibodies that react positively in licensed HIV diagnostic tests, which contain similar viral products. Thus, vaccine trial participants could be falsely diagnosed as infected with HIV. Additionally, uninfected, seropositive vaccinees may encounter long-term social and economic harms. Moreover, this also interferes with early detection of true HIV infections during preventive HIV vaccine trials. An HIV-seropositive test result among uninfected vaccine trial participants is a major public health concern for volunteers who want to participate in future HIV vaccine trials. Based on the increased number of HIV vaccines being tested globally, it is essential to differentiate vaccine- from virus-induced antibodies. Using a whole-HIV-genome phage display library, we identified conserved sequences in Env-gp41 and Gag-p6 which are recognized soon after infection, do not contain protective epitopes, and are not part of most current HIV vaccines. We established a new HIV serodetection assay based on these peptides. To date, this assay, termed HIV-SELECTEST, demonstrates >99% specificity and sensitivity. Importantly, in testing of plasma samples from multiple HIV vaccine trials, uninfected trial participants scored negative, while all intercurrent infections were detected within 1 to 3 months of HIV infection. The new HIV-SELECTEST is a simple but robust diagnostic tool for easy implementation in HIV vaccine trials and blood banks worldwide.