Novel HIV Vaccine Approach Shows Promise In “Landmark” First-In-Human Trial

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A novel vaccine approach for the prevention of HIV has shown promise in Phase I trials, reported IAVI and Scripps Research. According to the organisations, the vaccine successfully stimulated the production of the rare immune cells needed to generate antibodies against HIV in 97 per cent of participants.

The vaccine is being developed to act as an immune primer, to trigger the activation of naïve B cells via a process called germline-targeting, as the first stage in a multi-step vaccine regimen to elicit the production of many different types of broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs).

Stimulating the production of bnAbs has been pursued as a holy grail in HIV for decades. It is hoped that these specialised blood proteins could attach to HIV surface proteins called spikes, which allow the virus to enter human cells, and disable them via difficult-to-access regions that do not vary much from strain to strain.

In the Phase I IAVI G001trial, 48 healthy adult volunteers were enrolled to receive either a placebo or two doses of the vaccine compound, eOD-GT8 60mer, along with an adjuvant developed by the GlaxoSmithKline.

HIV affects more than 38 million people globally and is among the most difficult viruses to target with a vaccine, in large part because of its unusually fast mutation rate which allows it to constantly evolve and evade the immune system.

The company’s said this study sets the stage for additional clinical trials that will seek to refine and extend the approach, with the long-term goal of creating a safe and effective HIV vaccine. As a next step, the collaborators are partnering with the biotechnology company Moderna to develop and test an mRNA-based vaccine that harnesses the approach to produce the same beneficial immune cells. According to the team, using mRNA technology could significantly accelerate the pace of HIV vaccine development, as it did with vaccines for COVID-19.

The scientists believe the same approach could also be applied to vaccines for other challenging pathogens such as influenza, dengue, Zika, hepatitis C and malaria.

Source: European Pharmaceutical Review

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