The first doses of a vaccine against the AIDS virus using messenger RNA technology have been administered to humans, the American biotechnology company Moderna and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative announced on Thursday.
This so-called phase 1 trial will be carried out in the United States on 56 healthy, HIV-negative adults.
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Despite four decades of research, scientists have still not succeeded in developing a vaccine against this disease which kills hundreds of thousands of people every year.
But the recent successes of messenger RNA technology, which has enabled the development in record time of vaccines against Covid-19, including that of Moderna, have raised hopes.
The aim of the vaccine tested is to stimulate the production of a certain type of antibody (bnAb), capable of acting against the very numerous variants of HIV in circulation, the virus causing the disease AIDS.
Induce an immune response
The vaccine seeks to educate B cells, which are part of our immune system, to produce these antibodies.
For this, the trial will test the injection of a first immunogen, that is to say of a substance capable of provoking an immune response, and of a booster immunogen injected afterwards.
They will be delivered via messenger RNA technology.
The production of bnAbs is widely considered a goal of HIV vaccination, and this is a first step in that process
," the statement said.
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Other immunogens will be needed to guide the immune system on (the right) path, but this combination of boost and boost could be the first key element of a possible HIV vaccine regimen
,” said David Diemert, scientific manager of the trial at one of the four sites where it is being carried out, George Washington University.
The immunogens used were developed by the scientific research organization International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) and the Scripps Research Institute, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the US National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIAD), and Moderna.
Last year, a first trial, which did not use messenger RNA but tested the first immunogen, showed that the desired immune response was elicited in several dozen participants.
The next step was then to collaborate with Moderna.
Given the speed with which messenger RNA vaccines can be produced, this platform offers a more flexible and responsive approach to vaccine testing and design
," the statement said.
The search for an HIV vaccine is long and difficult, and having new tools in terms of immunogens and platforms could prove key to making rapid progress
,” said Mark Feinberg, CEO of IAVI.