American pharmaceutical company Moderna
is set to start human trials for its mRNA HIV vaccine.
According to various reports, the trial
is the first-ever HIV trial conducted with the technology.
Moderna is best known for creating one
of the world's first mRNA vaccines for COVID-19. While it is the
company's only commercial product, Moderna, based in Cambridge,
Massachusetts, has 24 vaccine candidates in development. Last month,
the company began a phase 1 clinical study of its influenza vaccine.
Fifty-six healthy adults between the
ages of 18 and 50 will reportedly be involved in Moderna's HIV phase
1 clinical trial.
Drew Weissman, an immunologist at the
University of Pennsylvania and a leading mRNA researcher, told Axios
that the number of diseases the technology could be applied to is
“The pandemic has alerted the world
to how good this platform is,” he said.
The search for an HIV vaccine has been
plagued by setbacks. HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, emerged in the
early 1980s. While drugs are effective at keeping HIV at bay, the
virus killed roughly 680,000 people in 2020. An estimated 36 million
deaths worldwide over the past 40 years were caused by HIV/AIDS.