Published April 7, 2022
By Mark Terry
Building on the success of its COVID-19 mRNA vaccine, Moderna, Inc. is partnering with the nonprofit scientific research organization IAVI to develop treatments and vaccines against global health threats. In particular, they will focus on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB), antimicrobial-resistant enteric infection and COVID-19.
“We are excited to partner with IAVI to leverage the power of mRNA and extend our commitment to global health across multiple diseases,” said Stéphane Bancel, Moderna’s chief executive officer. “Moderna’s mRNA platform, with its speed, scale, and flexibility, is uniquely suited to tackle current and emerging pathogens. With our mRNA technology and IAVI’s discovery and development expertise, together we have an opportunity to address persistent global health threats.”
This is not the first collaboration between the two organizations. On January 27, 2022, they announced the first doses had been administered in a clinical trial of experimental HIV vaccine antigens at George Washington University (GWU) School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, DC. The Phase I IAVI G002 trial is evaluating the theory that sequential dosing of priming and boosting HIV immunogens delivered via mRNA can cause B-cell responses and guide their early maturation into broadly neutralizing antibody development.
The HIV vaccine antigens being studied as mRNA were originally developed as a protein by William Schief, Ph.D., professor at The Scripps Research Institute and executive director of vaccine design at IAVI’s Neutralizing Antibody Center. In 2021, Schief announced results from the IAVI G001 trial that demonstrated the adjuvanted protein-based version of the priming immunogen resulted in the desired B-cell response in 97% of recipients. IAVI G002 tests priming of the desired immune response using an mRNA delivery system, but also evaluates the ability of the boosting immunogen to further induce B cells to mature.
The new collaboration also includes IAVI G002. The trial is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and is the first mRNA HIV vaccine to be tested in humans. They expect another Phase I trial to start this year in South Africa and Rwanda, IAVI G003.
IAVI G003 is sponsored by IAVI and supported by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) via the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has also supplied support by way of grants to Moderna and to the Collaboration for AIDS Vaccine Discovery Vaccine Immunology Statistical Center.
They will also have joint programs for TB vaccine candidates and therapeutic antibodies against COVID-19, HIV and enteric pathogens. These are all currently in the preclinical stage.
“Since our founding 25 years ago, we at IAVI have been focused on translating scientific discovery into broadly accessible solutions for global health problems,” stated Dr. Mark Feinberg, M.D., Ph.D., president and chief executive officer of IAVI. “Moderna’s proven, innovative platform has the potential to be a key that unlocks rapid production of vaccine and antibody candidates that could significantly accelerate our ability to solve the most difficult public health problems. IAVI’s partnership with Moderna is a unique example of two organizations with complementary expertise and shared goals combining the best of our science to address urgent global public health needs.”