A new vaccine for HIV which is based on the COVID-19 inoculation of Moderna is showing a 97% anti-body response rate in Phase 1 of clinical trials. As of now, over 38 million individuals are affected by HIV all over the world. If this vaccine is approved, it could become the first step in a planned strategy to combat HIV and various other viral diseases.
The vaccine has successfully stimulated the production of immune cells which are rare that generate antibodies against HIV, which leads to AIDS and then interferes and reduces the body’s strength to fight against infections, as reported by the non-profit organization IAVI and Scripps Research.
William Schief who is a professor and immunologist at Scripps Research and the executive director of vaccine design at IAVI’s Neutralizing Antibody Center (NAC) said, “This study demonstrates proof of principle for a new vaccine concept for HIV, a concept that could be applied to other pathogens, as well.”
As per The European Pharmaceutical Review, this vaccine is supposed to act as an immune primer that will trigger the activation of cells using a process called “germline-targeting.” The purpose of this process is to be the first step in a vaccine regimen that would elicit the production of various broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs). This kind of response has been stimulated and tried to be stimulated for decades in HIV research because it targets a structural aspect of the virus which does not change a lot from strain to strain. The surface of the cells of HIV have a protein which is called spikes. This vaccine will work to disable them from entering the cells of a human body.
This response rate of 97% is amazingly hopeful but it is vital to consider that this rate represents a study that is in its beginning stage and only takes into account 48 adult volunteers who are participating in the trial. Phase 1 testing marks the very first time a vaccine has been tested on a tiny group of adults so that its safety and its immune response can be evaluated and measured. As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the next stage would be Phase II, it would be to expand this clinical study and provide this vaccine to individuals similar to those for whom this new vaccine is being developed. Phase III is expected to have thousands of people to whom this vaccine will be provided. The efficacy and the safety of this vaccine will then be tested and then it will be submitted for a comprehensive approval and licensing process. Many times, vaccines go through Phase IV where the vaccine goes through a formal and ongoing study even after it has been approved.
The organizations released a joint statement saying, “As a next step, IAVI and Scripps Research are partnering with the biotechnology company Modern to develop and test an mRNA-based vaccine that harnesses the approach to produce the same beneficial immune cells. Using mRNA technology could significantly accelerate the pace of HIV vaccine development.”