AIDS Research: NIAID Scientists Produce a Promising mRNA-Based HIV Vaccine

Over the last few decades, scientists have been deadlocked on creating the first HIV vaccine. Did scientists finally make headway in discovering a Human Immunodeficiency Virus vaccine?

HIV Virus

HIV Virus

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) describes the HIV vaccine as essentially derived from the viral mRNA, using the same tech used to create two of the most potent COVID-19 vaccine in use now. Scientists claim this vaccine has shown effectiveness in rhesus primates, mice in trial phases. This could be the answer!

Read Also: Clinical Trial of New HIV Vaccine Suggests That 97% Of Participants That Got It Developed the Desired Antibodies

What happened?

The research results revealed that the vaccine was not only safe but also produced the biological changes needed to ward off an HIV-like virus.   Part of the process of arriving at a vaccine included injecting Rhesus monkeys with a ‘priming dose’ then multiple booster doses. This approach lowered the risk of infection by simian-human immunodeficiency [s-HIV] by 79% in contrast to their unimmunized counterparts. The research led by Paolo Lusso, M.D., Ph.D., of NIAID’s Laboratory of Immunoregulation, in affiliation with other top NIAID scientists from Moderna Inc

The NIAID Director, Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., described the vaccine as being a combination of different features which in essence aid the vaccine in overcoming shortfalls in other preceding vaccines. It is on this basis that Dr. Fauci described this vaccine as being promising.

Read Also: AIDS Prevention: Moderna Testing a Messenger RNA Vaccine against HIV

The vaccine delivers instructions for making two important viral proteins, namely Env and Gag. The animal muscle cells aggregate and turn these proteins into virus-like particles (VLPs). Lacking the complete genetic code of HIV, these particles are innocuous, however, they can elicit desired biological responses needed to combat HIV.

Subsequently, two injections of the vaccine caused the induction of antibodies in mice, according to the report. The viral Env proteins obtained with mice systems were similar to the Env protein found on HIV. This is a major advancement from preceding vaccines. On this note, Dr. Lusso P. described one of the main characters of the vaccine which has multiple copies of the envelope protein as the reason it closely mirrors natural HIV infection and hence elicits needed biologic response.

Read Also: Study Shows How the Body Copes with HIV after the Stopping of Antiretroviral Therapy

Next, they injected the primates with the VLP mRNA vaccine they obtained. They did so by priming the macaques followed by multiple booster inoculations within a year.

Different variables in the injections were altered to attempt to obtain favorable results. By the end of the 13th week, two of seven rhesus monkeys remain unaffected while the infection was delayed by eight weeks in the unimmunized. The unvaccinated primates, on the other hand, were infected after three weeks

Clinical significance

Now, we know that it is possible to avert HIV. Though the formulation of the HIV vaccine is in the early infancy, scientists, Governments, multinationals are enthusiastic about making this work


After decades of research work on HIV and a possible vaccination, scientists finally reached answers. Though it is not foolproof yet, so work still has to be done to improve efficacy.

Read Also: New mRNA Technology Could Usher in a New Era in Disease Management


A multiclade env–gag VLP mRNA vaccine elicits tier-2 HIV-1-neutralizing antibodies and reduces the risk of heterologous SHIV infection in macaques



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