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IAVI and Moderna partner to tackle global health priorities using mRNA for vaccines and antibodies

Collaboration targets bacterial and viral pathogens including HIV, SARS-CoV-2, antimicrobial-resistant pathogens and tuberculosis

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Moderna and the non-profit scientific research organisation IAVI yesterday announced a new collaboration to employ mRNA technology to meet the challenge of a range of global health threats. The collaboration combines the power of Moderna’s mRNA platform and IAVI’s expertise in discovery and product development to advance vaccines and antibodies designed to be globally accessible, especially in low-income countries where the targetted diseases have high incidence and prevalence, Moderna notified in a statement.

Within the partnership, the programme furthest along in development is a phase-I clinical trial, IAVI G002, of HIV vaccine antigens being delivered by mRNA. The trial was initiated in January 2022, and is testing vaccine antigens that were originally developed as proteins by a team led by William Schief, PhD, Professor, Scripps Research, and Executive Director, Vaccine Design, Neutralizing Antibody Center (NAC), IAVI, the statement further notified.

It also said that in early 2021, Dr Schief announced results from the IAVI G001 clinical trial, showing that an adjuvanted protein-based version of the immunogen eOD-GT8 60mer induced the desired B cell response in 97 per cent of recipients. IAVI G002 takes this concept further: it will determine whether mRNA-encoded eOD-GT8 60mer followed by an additional mRNA-encoded immunogen induces further maturation of B cells. This trial, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, represents the first time mRNA for HIV vaccines is evaluated in humans.

It further noted that another phase-I trial is expected to begin this year in South Africa and Rwanda. This trial, IAVI G003, is sponsored by IAVI and is made possible by the support of the American people through the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Additional support is provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation through grants to Moderna and to the collaboration for AIDS Vaccine Discovery Vaccine Immunology Statistical Center. The trial will assess whether receipt of the priming vaccine antigen being evaluated in IAVI G002 in US populations induces similar responses in African populations. Eventually, through these and future trials, the partners hope to demonstrate proof-of-principle for the elicitation of HIV broadly neutralising antibodies in humans via the vaccine approach pioneered by Dr Schief’s lab.

The other joint IAVI-Moderna programmes for TB vaccine candidates and antibodies for SARS-CoV-2, HIV and enteric pathogens are in pre-clinical stages. The TB collaboration will advance research on a set of promising antigens that the partners hope will bring much-needed diversity to the global pre-clinical TB vaccine pipeline. For the antibody programmes, scientists at the NAC are collaborating with Moderna researchers with the aim to improve the antibody-mRNA platform and establish proof-of-concept for testing in humans, the statement concluded.

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