New ‘Mosaic’ HIV Vaccine to Begin Testing in September

COMING OUT of the the 10th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Science in Mexico City last week, a team of scientists discussed the new vaccine they’ve developed that they’ve dubbed “Mosaic.”

According to Nature magazine, “Small trials of the mosaic vaccine in people showed that it prompted an immune response, such as the production of antibodies, against HIV. But starting in September, scientists will test it in thousands of people to assess whether the vaccine provides any protection against HIV infection. The phase III trial will test the vaccine in transgender individuals and in men who have sex with men across the Americas and Europe.”

These communities are disproportionately affected by HIV, with about two-thirds of new infections in the United States occurring among gay and bisexual men, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The latest Mosaico study will enrol 3,800 participants across 8 countries, including Argentina, Italy, Mexico, Poland and the United States. Half of the participants will get four vaccine injections over the course of a year, and the other half will receive a placebo.”

The shots contain a disabled common cold virus that carries synthetic versions of three HIV genes. Researchers built the genes based on sequences from HIV strains found in several regions around the world. As an added boost to help the body produce antibodies against HIV, the Mosaico team added two synthetic proteins — based on proteins produced by HIV strains common in Africa, the Americas, Europe and Australasia — to the last two doses in the series. The incorporation of this “protein boost” is what makes this a truly global vaccine, says Barouch.

The Mosaico team hopes that their vaccine will help to protect at least 65% of the study participants. They expect to get results by 2023. The study is sponsored by a consortium led by Janssen Vaccines & Prevention, part of Johnson & Johnson of New Brunswick, New Jersey.

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