Moderna Set to Test Experimental HIV mRNA Vaccine in People

A new effort to defeat HIV is about to get underway with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

MSN – According to trial registration data, pharmaceutical company Moderna will start a Phase I clinical trial of its HIV vaccine candidate this week, based on the same mRNA platform behind its successful covid-19 vaccine.

The trial will test the vaccine’s safety and measure the relevant immune response generated in a small group of healthy volunteers.

Moderna announced its latest efforts to develop an HIV vaccine in April, as part of a collaboration with the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

At the time, the company discussed plans to test two potential candidates, named mRNA-1644 and mRNA-1574.

On August 11, Moderna and other research partners published details about their Phase I trial of mRNA-1644 on, a database of human trials maintained by the National Institutes of Health.

According to the posting, the trial will officially start on August 19. Ultimately, it plans to involve 56 healthy volunteers who test negative for HIV.

There are now highly effective antivirals that can eradicate most traces of HIV in infected people, as well as prevent people exposed to it from becoming infected. But the virus still has plenty of tricks that let it linger in the body once it has infected our cells.

This includes the ability to quickly mutate parts of its structure, making it hard for HIV-specific antibodies produced by the immune system (elicited either through infection or a theoretical vaccine) to recognize it.

For decades, though, we’ve known that some people can produce broadly neutralizing antibodies to HIV—antibodies that can target multiple strains of the virus.

These antibodies focus on stable parts of the virus that don’t change much as it mutates, allowing them to remain potent.

One common strategy for developing an HIV vaccine has relied on coaxing the immune system to produce these broadly neutralizing antibodies on its own … READ MORE.

Ed Cara, August 18, 2021


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