First “promising” results of the messenger RNA vaccine against AIDS

A AIDS vaccine using messenger RNA (mRNA) technology showed its first promising results in animals. The vaccine was found to be safe after being administered to monkeys, with a decreased risk of infection by exposure to 79%. However, it requires improvement before it can be tested in humans.

“Despite nearly four decades of efforts by the global scientific community, an effective vaccine to prevent HIV remains an elusive goal,” said immunologist Anthony Fauci, co-author of the study and a White House consultant on the health crisis.

“This experimental messenger RNA vaccine combines several features that could overcome the failures of other experimental HIV vaccines, and represents an approximation promising“The director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAD) added in a statement.

Scientists from this institute worked together with researchers from Modern, the American company responsible for one of the most widely used vaccines against covid-19.

The study was published Thursday in the prestigious journal Nature.

Moderate side effects

The vaccine was first tested on mice and then in monkeys, who received multiple booster doses over a year. Despite the high doses of mRNA, the product was well tolerated, causing moderate side effects, such as temporary loss of appetite.

By week 58, all monkeys had developed levels of antibodies detectable. And from week 60, the animals were exposed each week to the virus, via the rectal mucosa.

Since monkeys are not vulnerable to HIV-1, which infects humans, the researchers used another similar virus, simien HIV (SHIV).

After 13 weeks, only two of the seven immunized primates were not infected. While the others not vaccinated developed the disease after about three weeks, those immunized took an average of eight weeks.

“This level of risk reduction could have a significant impact on viral transmission,” the study stressed.

The vaccine works by delivering genetic instructions to the body, causing the creation of two characteristic proteins of the virus. These assemble into particular pseudovirals (VLPs), mimicking an infection in order to elicit a response from the immune system.

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The scientists note, however, that the levels of antibodies elicited were relatively low, and that a vaccine requiring multiple injections would be difficult to apply in humans.

Similarly, they hope to improve the quality and quantity of the VLP generated, before testing the vaccine in humans.

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