First Human Trial of HIV Vaccine Produced Immune Response in 97% of Volunteers


A phase 1 clinical trial of an experimental vaccine primed the immune system using a unique approach in order to prevent HIV. The promising results, announced in February by the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) and Scripps Research, the vaccine showed success in stimulating production of rare immune cells needed to generate antibodies against the fast-mutating virus—and the targeted response was detected in 97 percent of participants who received the vaccine. “We showed that vaccines can be designed to stimulate rare immune cells with specific properties, and this targeted stimulation can be very efficient in humans,” said William Schief, PhD, a professor and immunologist at Scripps Research and executive director of vaccine design at IAVI’s Neutralizing Antibody Center, whose lab developed the vaccine. “We believe this approach will be key to making an HIV vaccine and possibly important for making vaccines against other pathogens.” As a next step, IAVI and Scripps 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.

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