The ‘mosaic vaccine,’ an experimental vaccine that targets more strains of HIV than any other existing vaccines, is set to start a late-stage clinical trial later this year. The vaccine incorporates genetic material from HIV strains from around the world, and also seems to have the longest-lasting effects than any others tested in people. Small trials of the mosaic vaccine have found it to trigger an immune response like the production of antibodies against HIV. Starting this September, the vaccine will be tested in thousands of people to determine if it can effectively fight the HIV infection.
The phase III trial will include testing of the vaccine in transgender individuals and in men who engage in intercourse with men across the US and Europe. These communities are unduly affected by HIV, with nearly two-thirds of new infections in the United States recorded among gay and bisexual men, as per the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The team that will run point on trial, which will be known as “Mosaico,” discussed the project at the 10th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Science held in Mexico. Some of the existing preventive methods like PrEP can be difficult for people to maintain or even access, and a vaccine that needs a few shots every other year could be a better alternative for them.
The Mosaico study will enroll 3,800 participants in eight countries, including Argentina, Poland, Mexico, Italy, and the United States. Half of these will receive four vaccine injections over a year, and the other half will be given a placebo. The Mosaico team hopes that the vaccine will help protect at least 65 percent of the participants. They expect to get the results by the year 2023. The study will be financially backed by a consortium led by Janssen Vaccines & Prevention, part of Johnson & Johnson, New Brunswick, New Jersey.