Recent Advancements In HIV Vaccine Research

HIV vaccine and a syringe.

Image credits: Unsplash

May 18th honors HIV Vaccine Awareness Day to reflect on the ongoing efforts to develop a preventive vaccine against HIV/AIDS. Despite decades of research for an effective vaccine, there have been advancements and innovative scientific approaches to help suppress and manage the disease.

Earlier this year, on January 22, 2024, multiple organizations announced a collaboration to develop an HIV vaccine. Specifically, the ReiThera Srl, the Ragon Institute of Mass General, MIT, and Harvard, and IAVI are planning to develop a novel HIV vaccine candidate that will be composed of ReiThera’s GRAd vector, and HIV T-cell epitopes identified by the Ragon Institute. This project will be funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.1

Each partner will be responsible for a different aspect of the program:

  • ReiThera will perform vector engineering and generation, process development, and good manufacturing practice (GMP) manufacture and release for the clinical use of GRAd-HIV vaccine.
  • The Ragon Institute will lead GRAd-HIV preclinical development.
  • IAVI will be the sponsor and execute a Phase I clinical trial to evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of the GRAd-HIV vaccine candidate.

ReiThera’s vaccine platform uses a novel proprietary replication-defective Gorilla adenoviral (GRAd) vector, belonging to species C adenoviruses that are considered among the most potent vaccine carriers for the induction of CD8 T-cell responses to the encoded antigens and having a low seroprevalence in humans.1

“IAVI’s Product Development Center [PDC] is so pleased to be able to partner with ReiThera and the Ragon Institute to advance the clinical testing of the GRAd-HIV vaccine candidate through a phase 1 clinical trial,” Sangeetha Sagar, IAVI’s vice president of Product Development, said in a statement. “The PDC’s purpose is to advance promising biomedical innovations across the global health field by supporting clinical testing and product development, and we are excited to have the opportunity to support this new approach to HIV vaccine development.”2

More recently, on March 2, 2024, IAVI provided a company statement on the mRNA HIV vaccine candidate trials that refers to research aimed at developing a vaccine against HIV. These trials involve testing the effectiveness and safety of mRNA-based formulations designed to stimulate the immune system to recognize and respond to HIV, to prevent HIV infection, or to mitigate its effects.

Mark Feinberg, MD, PhD, IAVI’s president and CEO, said, “IAVI is encouraged by the very favorable immunogenicity results seen in IAVI G002 and related trials, which will be published in forthcoming papers. We look forward to continuing our pursuit of proof-of-concept for the elicitation of broadly neutralizing antibodies against HIV via the defined sequential germline-targeting immunization strategy while working to better understand this safety signal and identify approaches to mitigate it. We will continue safety and immunogenicity studies of scientifically promising immunogens that we hope will be part of a much-needed HIV vaccine.”3

In conclusion, recent advancements in HIV vaccine research signal a renewed commitment to combating HIV/AIDS. With promising developments such as the innovative GRAd vaccine platform and ongoing mRNA vaccine trials, progress toward an effective HIV vaccine is evident. As HIV Vaccine Awareness Day is observed, the dedication to supporting and advancing these crucial research efforts is reaffirmed.

More HIV research, prevention, and treatment methods by Contagion:

A Long-Acting Injectable for HIV Therapy Shows Efficacy Over Daily Oral Regimen

FDA Approves Expanded Indication for HIV Therapy

FDA Approves HIV Therapy for Adolescents

The Efficacy of New HIV Treatment in Older Adults

Examining a Newer Therapy for Heavily Treated HIV Patients


  1. Infectious Disease News Briefs: January 25, 2024. Contagion. Published January 25, 2024. Accessed May 18, 2024. https://www.contagionlive.com/view/infectious-disease-news-briefs-january-25-2024
  2. ReiThera Srl, the Ragon Institute and IAVI announce collaboration to advance highly networked T-cell HIV vaccine candidate towards Phase I clinical evaluation. IAVI press release. January 22, 2024. Accessed May 18, 2024. https://www.iavi.org/press-release/reithera-srl-the-ragon-institute-and-iavi-announce-collaboration-to-advance-highly-networked-t-cell-hiv-vaccine-candidate-towards-phase-i-clinical-evaluation/
  3. IAVI. IAVI statement on mRNA HIV vaccine candidate trials. Published March 2, 2024. Accessed May 18, 2024. https://www.iavi.org/features/iavi-statement-on-mrna-hiv-vaccine-candidate-trials/

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