Advances in HIV vaccine that uses messenger RNA
An HIV vaccine project that uses messenger RNA, one of the technologies used for COVID-19 vaccines, yielded promising results in its research phase in animals, according to an article published in early December in the journal Nature.
Messenger RNA (mRNA) is a substance created in the laboratory that is inserted into the body to tell cells to generate fragments of the virus, in this case, two HIV-specific fragments. The presence of these fragments in the body stimulates the immune system, which in this way learns to identify these parts of HIV and attacks them during an actual infection.
The research is carried out in conjunction with the company Moderna, one of the manufacturers of vaccines against COVID-19, and has the participation of Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the United States National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, who is also in charge of leading the response to the COVID pandemic in that country.
In this stage, the vaccine has been tested in mice and monkeys. The latter are tested using the simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), a virus very similar to HIV, which only infects humans.
For little over a year (58 weeks), seven monkeys received seven doses of the vaccine, resulting in the development of detectable antibody levels. In a comparison group, seven other monkeys were not immunized.
Starting at week 60, all animals were exposed each week to SIV, through the rectum’s mucosa (one of the tissues most susceptible to infection). In the vaccinated group, by week 13, five of the seven monkeys had become infected, but in the unvaccinated group, all of the monkeys had developed the infection by week 3. Although the results are not conclusive, the researchers see hope in them.
“This experimental mRNA vaccine combines several characteristics that could overcome the shortcomings of other experimental HIV vaccines, and represents a promising approach,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci in a statement.
There is still a long way to go to find a vaccine against this virus. In the meantime, it’s important to take care of yourself by wearing a condom and taking an HIV test. Come to AHF Latin America and the Caribbean and we will support you with these and other services. Contact our closest office in your country or write to us on WhatsApp.