Their results during the phase one clinical trial, involving 48 healthy adults, showed promising success in stimulating production of rare immune cells, which are vital to start the process of generating antibodies against the fast-mutating virus. The targeted response was identified in 97 percent of participants who received the vaccine.
After these encouraging findings the scientists now hope to continue their progress in further clinical trials, where they will be able to refine and extend their approach, enabling them to create a safe and effective vaccine. For this next step IAVI and Scripps Research will be partnering with biotechnology company Moderna, to develop and test and mRNA-based vaccine. Using mRNA technology could be a huge advantage, as it has the potential to significantly accelerate the pace of the HIV vaccine development.
“This is a tremendous achievement for vaccine science as a whole,” says Dennis Burton, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Immunology and Microbiology at Scripps Research. “This clinical trial has shown that we can drive immune responses in predictable ways to make new and better vaccines, and not just for HIV. We believe this type of vaccine engineering can be applied more broadly, bringing about a new day in vaccinology."
Looking at the future for vaccines, researchers have suggested there could be promise for treatments beyond HIV. Using the same approach used for the HIV vaccine, scientists believe the approach could also be applied to vaccines for other challenging pathogens such as influenza, Zika, hepatitis C, dengue viruses and malaria.