HIV-prevention vaccine trial to begin at University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio

University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (Courtesy photo: UTSA)

ABC News is reporting that the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonios is one of four medical facilities across the U.S chosen to participate in Phase 1 clinical trials of an HIV mRNA vaccine for the prevention of HIV.

Moderna, one of the biotech companies that created vaccines for COVID-19, is teaming up with the non-profit International AIDS Vaccine Initiative to develop the new medication.

The study in San Antonio will enroll 15 local patients. “We seek healthy volunteers who are passionate about contributing to the science of developing an HIV vaccine,” local principal investigator Barbara Taylor, MD, MS, assistant dean and associate professor of infectious diseases at the health science center said in a press release.

The study will last from six to 11 months. Participants will be compensated for their time. Outpatient examinations and blood analysis will be conducted at University Hospital to measure the effects of the vaccine. No one at risk for HIV will be enrolled, and no pregnant women can be included.

“The strategy under study involves two mRNA vaccines, one a prime and one a boost,” Dr. Taylor said.

A total of 56 participants will participate in the trials across the four testing locations. The three other medical facilities participating in the study are George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, D.C.; Hope Clinic of Emory Vaccine Center in Atlanta; and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

“We are tremendously excited to be advancing this new direction in HIV vaccine design with Moderna’s mRNA platform. 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,” Mark Feinberg, M.D., Ph.D., president and CEO of IAVI said in a statement.

“For many of us, one of the few bright lights of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the demonstration of the utility of mRNA technology,” Dr. Taylor said. “We’ve seen it work for COVID and it has been truly amazing, but it doesn’t have to stop at COVID. We can take this new strategy and apply it to an unfortunately old and hard-to-crack problem, HIV.”

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