Moderna begins second HIV jab trials

March 15, 2022

Trial testing for Moderna’s second mRNA HIV jab is underway, the company announced this week. The first patient has been dosed just a few weeks after they launched a phase 1 trial for their other HIV vaccine, which uses mRNA to elicit B-cell responses. 

This second shot, however, uses a slightly different approach. Instead of attempting to generate broad antibodies against the virus, mRNA-1574 targets HIV envelope trimers via mRNA. The company says that they hope that the soluble and membrane-bound HIV envelope trimer mRNA vaccines will be safe and well-tolerated.

"Developing a vaccine regimen that induces sustained protective levels of HIV neutralizing antibodies in humans has been difficult to achieve. At Moderna, we believe that mRNA offers an opportunity to take a fresh approach to this challenge,” said Stephen Hodge, president of Moderna.

The trial is the latest development in a symbolic race for the next groundbreaking HIV prevention therapy, that now appears to be led by Moderna and Excision BioTherapeutics, who began their own phase 1/2 trial earlier this year to test its CRISPR-based therapeutic, which they deem a "functional cure." 

While the industry has prioritized developing and improving treatment options for patients, optimism is high regarding the feasibility of ending the HIV epidemic and our most recent cover story explores the current status of the search for an HIV cure.