Moderna Starts Human Trials for its Revolutionary HIV Vaccine Today

Today, the biotech company Moderna will start human trials for its HIV vaccine. Its HIV vaccine will be the first of its kind to use messenger RNA (mRNA), an approach that Moderna used in its effective COVID-19 vaccine.

The clinical trials will end sometime around spring 2023, according to the National Institutes of Health’s trial registry. They will involve 56 HIV-negative participants aged 18 to 56. The participants will be given one or two forms of mRNA that cause the body to form defenses against HIV infection.

In the past, HIV vaccines used inactivated forms of the virus. However, previous trials showed that these forms didn’t produce any immune responses. In fact, researchers canceled one trial in Thailand during the 2000s after inactivated forms of the virus were found to actually increase people’s risk of catching HIV rather than preventing infections.

Instead, the Moderna trials will contain one of two different types of mRNA: mRNA-1644 and mRNA-1644v2. These get the body’s cells to develop a “protein spike” on their surfaces. These spikes are similar to those embedded by HIV on a cell’s surface when it begins to infect cells to reproduce. When the body recognizes the presence of the mRNA spike, it begins producing antibodies to protect against infection. The mRNA may also allow scientists to make tweaks to the vaccine more easily.

The mRNA platform makes it easy to develop vaccines against variants because it just requires an update to the coding sequences in the mRNA that code for the variant,” Rajesh Gandhi, MD, an infectious diseases physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and chair of the HIV Medicine Association, told the medical site Verywell. This is especially helpful for HIV since the virus is known for having mutated into at least 16 known variants.

Source: https://www.lgbtqnation.com/

First data for Moderna Covid-19 vaccine show it spurs an immune response

Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine led patients to produce antibodies that can neutralize the novel coronavirus that causes the disease, though it caused minor side effects in many patients, according to the first published data from an early-stage trial of the experimental shot.


It certainly is a good beginning,” said Betty Diamond, director at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research.

The results were published Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. Moderna had previously released some results in a press release, but many experts said they were not sufficient to draw many conclusions. Even now, many are withholding judgment. The study, which was run by the National Institutes of Health, showed that volunteers who received the vaccine made more neutralizing antibodies than have been seen in most patients who have recovered from Covid-19. But a second injection, four weeks after the first, was required before the vaccine produced a dramatic immune response.

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Speak Is Sufficient To Spread Coronavirus

Tiny droplets of saliva that are sprayed into the air when people speak may be sufficient to spread coronavirus, according to US government scientists who say the finding could help control the outbreak. Researchers at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Maryland found that talking released thousands of fine droplets into the air that could pose a risk to others if the speaker were infected with the virus.

The scientists used laser imaging and high-speed videography to show how thousands of droplets that are too small to see with the naked eye are emitted in normal speech, even in short phrases such as “stay healthy”. The work is preliminary and has not been peer-reviewed or published, but in a report the scientists claim the findings may have “vital implications” for containing the pandemic.

If speaking and oral fluid viral load proves to be a major mechanism of Sars-CoV-2 [the official name of the virus] transmission, wearing any kind of cloth mouth cover in public by every person, as well as strict adherence to social distancing and handwashing, could significantly decrease the transmission rate and thereby contain the pandemic until a vaccine becomes available,” the researchers write.

The results will fuel the ongoing debate over whether or not healthy people should wear face masks in public. Recent advice from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called for members of the public to wear cloth face covers when they visit places where it is hard to maintain physical distancing, such as pharmacies and grocery stores.

But the US advice contrasts with that from the World Health Organization, which reviewed its stance on face masks last week. In updated guidance published on Monday it restated that there was no evidence wearing a mask in public prevented people from picking up respiratory infections such as Covid-19.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/

Alzheimer’s Breakthrough Likely Within Five Years

The head of the Trump administration’s medical research institution predicted the United States would be closer to slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease within the next five years.

Will we have a cure this year? Probably not,” National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins said on New Year’s Eve in an interview with Newsmakers on C-SPAN. “Will we have a way to figure out how to slow the disease in the next five years? I believe we will, but it is going to take every bit of energy, creativity, determination, and resources possible to get there.

Collins, who has led the NIH for more than a decade, didn’t specify a figure for how much funding would be needed to make progress on Alzheimer’s, the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S. Research on another leading killer, cancer, has surpassed $5 billion in funding for years, and researchers have been able to develop new ways to address certain types.

In its latest spending bill, Congress increased NIH funding for dementia research, including Alzheimer’s, by $350 million, bringing the total amount devoted to the cause to $2.8 billion. The budget is four times what it was six years ago. NIH conducts research in-house and provides grants to outside scientists. “We will put every dime of that to good use,” Collins said.

Despite some increases in funding several years in a row, there’s still no way to cure the disease or to slow it, leaving public health experts and policymakers concerned about how the U.S. will care for the 14 million adults who are predicted to have Alzheimer’s by 2050, as well as for their caregivers.

For years, scientists were primarily focused on the theory that if they could get rid of a protein buildup in the brain called “amyloid,” then they could get rid of Alzheimer’s disease. Their research, however, came up dry. Now, Collins noted in the interview, scientists are looking at a lot of different approaches to addressing Alzheimer’s. “We have hedged our bets at the NIH over the course of the last five or six years to look in every nook and cranny,” Collins said.

Source: https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/