Good to Know > Moderna takes First mRNA HIV Vaccine into Clinical Trials

Moderna takes First mRNA HIV Vaccine into Clinical Trials

  • Moderna and its non-profit partner IAVI decide to launch clinical trials for the mRNA HIV vaccine.
  • The vaccine works on the mechanism of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.
  • The HIV vaccine delivers instructions helpful in inducing some immune responses.


On January 27, 2022, Moderna announced the launch of clinical trials for an mRNA-based HIV vaccine. The first participant at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, DC has been administered a dose of the HIV trimer mRNA vaccine in a Phase 1 human trial. Moreover, the Hope Clinic of Emory Vaccine Centre in Atlanta, the University of Texas Health Science Centre in San Antonio, and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle are also the centres of the Phase 1 trial. 


The biotechnology company along with non-profit partner IAVI developed the vaccine shot. This vaccine uses the same technology as that of the COVID-19 vaccine by Moderna.


Mainly, the experts are testing whether this mRNA HIV vaccine is effective in inducing desirable immune responses or not. The vaccine is expected to do so by delivering instructions for HIV-specific antigens (molecules that bring out an immune response). The scientific teams at Scripps Research and IAVI developed these antigens, also referred to as immunogens. 


Earlier, a “proof-of-concept” trial of this vaccine indicated that one of these antigens induced a positive immune response. In 97% of the participants, this led to the priming of the right types of B lymphocytes. The new vaccine teaches the cells of the body how to produce proteins for triggering immune responses. 


Besides this, the company has also developed a booster shot to deliver HIV immunogens through messenger RNA. The ultimate goal remains the targeting of a broad range of HIV variants by producing neutralizing antibodies. 


As per the current statement, 56 healthy, HIV-negative adult participants shall be enrolled at four main sites of the Phase 1 trial. Of them, 48 will be administered one or two doses of the vaccines, and 32 will be given boosters too. The rest (8) volunteers shall receive only the booster doses. 


Furthermore, the researchers will conduct follow-ups 6 months after their last dose. The aim of doing this is to examine the immune responses and look out for safety concerns.


Mark Feinberg, MD, president, and CEO of IAVI said in the news release, “We are tremendously excited to be advancing this new direction in HIV vaccine design with Moderna's mRNA platform.” He added, “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."