Back in April, Moderna shared its intentions to create an HIV vaccine in collaboration with THE Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. This month we also received details regarding the first phase of the vaccine trial.
Prevention might represent the most efficient weapon to finally beat HIV. Moderna plans to start this week the first phase of a clinical trial. The vaccine is based in fact on mRNA, just as the COVID-19 vaccine. The first trial is meant to verify the safety of the shot, testing it on a group of volunteers that are not infected with HIV. The start date for the trial will be August 19 and 56 healthy people have volunteered to go through Phase 1.
During this phase, researchers make sure the vaccine does not have any dangerous side effects. In this case, they will also analyze how the immune system of the volunteer responds. Phase 1 is expected to end in 2023. If this phase proves to be successful, it will take more years of tests before the vaccine is publicly released.
HIV has become less of a grave health issue in the past years as there have appeared multiple antivirals that can successfully fight the virus in persons who are infected. Nonetheless, the disease remains dangerous, as it can disrupt the antibody defense in the body by mutating certain portions of its structure. As such, the antibodies fight against the parts of the virus that remain sable, ignoring the mutating parts.
Previous attempts to create a HIV vaccine focused on trying to make the immune system create the antibodies by itself. However, Moderna is now trying a new approach, inspired by the method used to create the COVID-19 vaccine.