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Moderna begins trial of HIV vaccine that uses mRNA technology

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Moderna is beginning a trial of an mRNA vaccine for HIV, the company announced Thursday.

First doses of the vaccine have been administered in a clinical trial at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., that is also being organized by non-profit scientific research organization IAVI.

The vaccine aims to use messenger RNA to deliver HIV immunogens to recipients, which are antigens that can potentially spark an immune response by creating “broadly neutralizing antibodies” (bnAb).

Read more: Canada approves 1st HIV self-test to help reduce screening barriers

Those antibodies are widely considered the goal of HIV vaccination to help fight the disease.

“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,” IAVI’s CEO, Mark Feinberg, said in a statement.

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Moderna credits mRNA technology for potentially shaving years off typical vaccine development times.

The company said a series of vaccines might be needed to create the antibodies necessary to “neutralize” a range of HIV variants, beginning with the one currently being trialed.

The trial will test 56 healthy, HIV-negative adults, and is being funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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