Story at a glance
- Pharmaceutical company Moderna is kicking off a clinical trial for an mRNA-based HIV vaccine.
- The trial will include a series of shots among 56 healthy, HIV-negative adults.
- Moderna’s mRNA technology has been proven successful in the company’s COVID-19 vaccine.
In a historic step, pharmaceutical company Moderna announced it has administered the first doses of an experimental HIV vaccine as part of a clinical trial that will study the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.
Releasing a statement last week, Moderna said the first doses of an HIV vaccine were administered as part of a clinical trial called IAVI G002. The mRNA vaccine delivers HIV-specific antigens to the body in hopes that it will induce an immune response.
The vaccine was developed by William Schief, a professor at Scripps Research and executive director of vaccine design at IAVI’s Neutralizing Antibody Center, and colleagues. Schief originally conducted a separate IAVI G001 clinical trial that showed the HIV vaccine induced a desired immune response in 97 percent of recipients.
The new IAVI G002 clinical trial will not only test the desired immune response of the HIV vaccine but also the ability of a booster version by using Moderna’s mRNA technology, which proved to be successful in the company’s COVID-19 vaccine.
“We are tremendously excited to be advancing this new direction in HIV vaccine design with Moderna’s mRNA platform. 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,” says Mark Feinberg, president and CEO of IAVI.
The clinical trial is taking place at four sites across the country, including George Washington University in Washington, D.C., the Hope Clinic of Emory Vaccine Center in Atlanta, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and the University of Texas-Health Science Center at San Antonio.
Each site will enroll 56 healthy, HIV-negative adult volunteers. Moderna says 48 of the participants will get one or two doses of the HIV mRNA vaccine, while 32 of them will receive the booster HIV shot. An additional eight volunteers will only get the booster shot by itself.
Researchers will monitor the participants’ safety six months after their last vaccination and the immune responses for those who received a vaccine.
“We’ve seen promising proof of concept for germline targeting in IAVI G001, and this trial lets us take that approach to the next stage. What’s more, we’ve been able to expedite production of clinical trial material at a remarkably rapid pace because of Moderna’s technology,” said Schief, in a statement.
The new HIV clinical trial is also being funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as Moderna entered a global health project framework with the foundation to advance mRNA-based development projects for various infectious diseases back in 2016.
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