Moderna’s human HIV vaccine trial to use same tech as Covid jab

·2-min read
A patient receiving an injection of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Wire)
A patient receiving an injection of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Wire)

Moderna will start human trials for two new HIV vaccines based on technology used in its Covid-19 jab.

Although experts urged caution, any effective vaccine would be a game changer in the global fight against HIV and AIDS.

The US biotech giant will on Thursday begin to scout out 56 healthy people aged between 18 and 50 into its Phase 1 trial to assess the safety of the vaccines and their ability to generate a broad range of neutralising antibodies against HIV.

The study is expected to run until May 2023.

'Record numbers' living with HIV
'Record numbers' living with HIV

Moderna was among the first to develop a coronavirus jab last year.

On Tuesday, it was approved for use in children aged between 12 and 17 by the UK medical watchdog.

It is the second authorised for that age group after the Pfizer vaccine.

Country music star Dolly Parton donated £725,000 to Vanderbilt University Medical Centre in Nashville, Tennessee, which participated in the research for the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine.

Scientists hope that same ground-breaking mRNA technology will once again be put to use.

Promising developments over recent decades have so far failed to materialise into a vaccine against the virus causing AIDS.

Multiple vaccines will ultimately be needed to generate sufficient immune response required to provide protection against HIV which is far more advanced in escaping the body’s defences.

A scientist working on HIV tests
A scientist working on HIV tests

The spike-like protein allows HIV to get entry to human cells because it is covered in a sugar residue and hidden from sight of the antibodies. It makes it difficult to neutralise the virus.

HIV can also stay in people’s systems for years before developing into AIDS.

In this time, the virus will mutate parts of its spike protein and they become almost unrecognisable to antibodies.

Professor Robin Shattock, an immunologist at Imperial College London, told The Independent: “Moderna are testing a complicated concept which starts the immune response against HIV.

“It gets you to first base but it’s not a home run. Essentially we recognise that you need a series of vaccines to induce a response that gives you the breadth needed to neutralise HIV.

“It’s quite likely that their technology may allow them to start to look at that process, but we’re a very long way away from an effective vaccine.”

Prof Shattock described the progression to human testing as “a potential first step forward on a very long journey”.

He said it was “exciting” that Moderna’s mRNA technology was being used in a HIV vaccine.

In 1984, when HIV was identified as the virus causing AIDS it was thought vaccines could be developed within a matter of years.

While scientists have not yet found an HIV jab, antiretroviral treatment means people with it can live long lives.

Read More

Ex-Afghan President: I left to avoid bloodshed and didn’t take cash

What does the Taliban’s Sharia law mean for Afghan women?

British man jailed for refusing to wear a face mask in Singapore

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting