The trial, titled IAVI G002, is being conducted in partnership with IAVI, a nonprofit scientific research organization. It is testing a vaccine that delivers HIV-specific antigens to the body with the goal of inducing an immune response. These antigens were initially developed by researchers at IAVI and Scripps Research, led by Dr. William Schief.
In a "proof-of-concept" trial last year, the research team found the HIV antigens produced the desired immune response in 97% of participants. The current trial builds on the previous one by testing the primary version of the vaccine and also a booster version, and by employing Moderna's mRNA technology, which was previously used to create a successful Covid-19 vaccine.
"We are tremendously excited to be advancing this new direction in HIV vaccine design with Moderna's mRNA platform. 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," Mark Feinberg, IAVI's president and CEO, said in a news release from Moderna.
The new trial, funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will follow 56 HIV-negative adult participants, with the goal of studying both the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. Forty-eight of the volunteers will receive at least one dose of the primary vaccine, 32 of which will also receive the booster. The remaining eight will receive the booster vaccine alone.
The trial includes participants from four locations: George Washington University School of Medicine, Hope Clinic of Emory Vaccine Center, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.