Health and Wellness

Moderna officially begins Phase 1 trial of experimental HIV vaccine

A medical professional prepares to give a vaccine shot to a younger patient.
Photo: Shutterstock

Moderna – the biotechnology company responsible for one of the COVID-19 vaccines – has announced that the first participant in its phase 1 trial of its experimental in HIV vaccine has been given a dose.

The new vaccine uses the same groundbreaking mRNA technology that both Moderna and Pfizer utilized to create their COVID-19 vaccines.

Related: Untreated HIV may have led to new Omicron variant of Covid-19

The technology has proven to be highly effective at producing immune responses and could be a new key to targeting HIV, which has long evaded vaccine technology because it mutates so quickly.

Unlike other vaccines, those made with mRNA technology allow scientists to target multiple variants.

“The mRNA platform makes it easy to develop shots against variants because it just requires an update to the coding sequences in the mRNA that code for the variant,” infectious disease doctor and HIV Medicine Association chair Rajesh Gandhi explained in June.

Moderna has been working on the experimental HIV vaccine in partnership with the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (AIVI), as well as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Scripps Research.

“We are tremendously excited to be advancing this new direction in HIV vaccine design with Moderna’s mRNA platform,” 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.”

Moderna began initial human trials for the HIV vaccine in August. A press release explained that this first phase will hopefully build on the response see in that proof-of-concept trial.

“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,” said Moderna president Stephen Hoge.

“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.”

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