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HIV Vaccine Begins Human Trials

by : Emily Brown on :
HIV Vaccine Begins Human Trials
HIV Vaccine Begins Human Trials (Alamy)

The first doses of an experimental HIV vaccine have been administered this week following years of research.

News about the start of the experimental HIV vaccine antigens trial comes from nonprofit scientific research organisation IAVI and biotechnology company Moderna, which is known for its recent creation of a coronavirus vaccine.

The doses, developed by scientific teams at IAVI and Scripps Research and delivered via Moderna's mRNA technology, were administered yesterday, January 27, as part of a trial at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, DC.

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Vaccine (Alamy)
Vaccine (Alamy)

The trial involves 56 healthy, HIV-negative adults, 48 of which will receive one or two doses, with 32 then receiving a boost. An additional eight will receive the booster jab alone, ABC News reports. After receiving the doses, participants are set to be monitored for at least six months while their immune responses are examined in molecular detail.

Development of the vaccine antigens comes after 'years of work' by IAVI and Scripps Research, according to a press release, which explains the first phase is 'designed to test the hypothesis that sequential administration of priming and boosting HIV immunogens delivered by messenger RNA (mRNA) can induce specific classes of B-cell responses and guide their early maturation toward broadly neutralizing antibody (bnAb) development'.

The induction of bnAb is 'widely considered to be a goal of HIV vaccination', the creators explain, with the beginning of the trial described as 'the first step in that process'.

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The vaccines were developed with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology and Immunogen Discovery (CHAVI-ID) at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Moderna.

Mark Feinberg, president and CEO of IAVI, described the team as being 'tremendously excited to be advancing this new direction in HIV vaccine design with Moderna's mRNA platform'.

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Feinberg said the search for an HIV vaccine has been 'long and challenging', and noted that 'having new tools in terms of immunogens and platforms could be the key to making rapid progress toward an urgently needed, effective HIV vaccine'.

He added: 'We are grateful to all of our partners and especially to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for funding this trial.'


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Meanwhile, Moderna president Stephen Hoge said: 'We are very pleased to be partnering with IAVI and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to apply our mRNA technology in the setting of HIV. At Moderna, we believe that mRNA offers a unique opportunity to address critical unmet public health needs around the world.

'We believe advancing this HIV vaccine program in partnership with IAVI and Scripps Research is an important step in our mission to deliver on the potential for mRNA to improve human health,' he continued.

IAVI and Scripps Research are set to continue the collaboration as they 'extend and evaluate the sequence of promising immunogens to elicit bnAbs'.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University before going on to contribute to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems. She joined UNILAD in 2018 and now works as Senior Journalist covering breaking news, trending stories and longer form features with a focus on human interest stories.

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