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WebMD: Human Trials for HIV Vaccine Created With mRNA Technology to Begin

September 02, 2021 | Liz Scherer

Over the past decade, advances in HIV treatment have yielded new drug combinations, once-daily dosing, and, most recently, the introduction of long-acting injectables for pre- and post-exposure prevention and treatment.

But why has it been so difficult to make an HIV vaccine?

“The difficulties of vaccine candidates that have been tested in people so far is that none of them produced broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) against HIV, which are antibodies produced by the host immune system that have the ability to block HIV in target cells,” explains Mark Feinberg, MD, president and CEO of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI).

Just this week, the National Institutes of Health announced that yet another HIV vaccine candidate, which was aimed at producing non-neutralizing antibodies, failed to provide sufficient protection against HIV infection in women.

But the tide may be turning. IAVI and Scripps Research, along with Moderna and other partners, are about to launch a phase I clinical study that will assess the ability of two vaccine candidates mRNA 1644 and mRNA 1644v2 to safely generate broadly neutralizing antibodies in healthy adults. The study is set to begin recruiting participants the third week of September.

....Mohammed Sajadi, MD, an associate professor of medicine at University of Maryland’s Institute of Human Virology, agrees.

“I think that it’s very innovative, very creative, but very ambitious,” says Sajadi, who was not involved in the study.

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Vanessa McMains
Director, Media & Public Affairs
Institute of Human Virology
University of Maryland School of Medicine