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Injection of optimism as HIV vaccine trial begins

The first doses of an experimental HIV vaccine have been delivered in the phase 1 clinical trial. International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), a non-profit scientific research organisation – alongside biotechnology company Moderna and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – aims to build on the results seen in a proof-of-concept trial for the associated antigens.

“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,” said Stephen Hoge, president of Moderna.

“We believe advancing this HIV vaccine programme 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 added.

The phase 1 IAVI G002 trial is taking place at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, in Washington, DC. It is designed to test the idea that priming and boosting HIV immunogens delivered by messenger RNA (mRNA) can induce specific types of B-cell responses and guide their early growth toward broadly neutralising antibody (bnAb) development.

An immunogen is a substance inducing an immune response and BnAbs are neutralising antibodies that neutralise several viral strains of HIV-1. The induction of BnAbs is widely considered to be a goal of HIV vaccination and this is the first step in the process.

The immunogens being tested in IAVI G002 were developed by scientific teams at IAVI and Scripps Research and will be delivered via Moderna’s mRNA technology.