Moderna announced Thursday that it’s launched early-stage clinical trials of an HIV mRNA vaccine. The biotechnology company has teamed up with the nonprofit International AIDS Vaccine Initiative to develop the shot, which uses the same technology as Moderna’s successful COVID-19 vaccine.
“We are tremendously excited to be advancing this new direction in HIV vaccine design with Moderna’s mRNA platform,” Dr. Mark Feinberg, president and CEO of IAVI, said in a statement. “The search for an HIV vaccine has been long and challenging, and having new tools in terms of immunogens and platforms could be the key to making rapid progress toward an urgently needed, effective HIV vaccine.”
Being diagnosed with HIV was once considered a death sentence. Today, HIV is much more manageable with medications that can reduce viral loads to undetectable so the virus can’t be transmitted, as well as pills that can be taken to prevent infecting those who are HIV-negative. But despite decades of research, no vaccine has ever been developed. Several candidates have entered clinical trials but failed in later stages. The new vaccine uses mRNA, or messenger RNA, which teaches the body’s cells how to make proteins that trigger immune responses.
Researchers have developed not only a primary vaccine but also a booster to deliver HIV immunogens — molecules that elicit an immune response — via mRNA. According to the statement, Phase I of the trial will enroll 56 healthy, HIV-negative adult participants. Of the volunteers, 48 will receive one or two doses of the mRNA vaccine, and 32 also will receive the booster. The remaining eight will receive just the booster. Researchers will then monitor for safety and efficacy of the new vaccine for up to six months after participants receive their final dose.
Source: ABC News
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