HIV vaccine study using mRNA technology starts in the US

Simon Collins, HIV i-Base

The rapid development of vaccines against COVID-19 led many people to question whether similar investment could have achieved an effective HIV vaccine.

One response emphasised that decades of HIV research were actually enabling faster treatments for COVID-19. Another reported that mRNA technology behind the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines might now be transferrable back to efforts against HIV.

On 14 March 2022, the US NIH issued a press statement about the launch of a phase 1 study of three experimental HIV vaccine based on mRNA technology. [1]

The HVTN 302 study will look at safety and immune responses in up to 108 adult participants in ten US cities. The three candidate vaccines are: (i) BG505 MD39.3 mRNA, (ii) BG505 MD39.3 gp151 mRNA, and (iii) BG505 MD39.3 gp151 CD4KO mRNA. 

This research programme was first announced by Moderna in January 2021. [2]


  1. NIH launches clinical trial of three mRNA HIV vaccines: phase 1 study is among first to examine mRNA technology for HIV. (14 March 2022).
  2. Moderna PR. Moderna provides business update and announces three new development programs in infectious disease vaccines. (11 January 2021).

This report was first published on 16 March 2022.

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