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Germline-Targeting HIV Vaccine Shows Promise in Phase I Trial

This post has been updated to better reflect the affiliations of the study's corresponding authors and note IAVI's role.

A broadly neutralizing antibody (bnAb) HIV vaccine has shown promise in a Phase I clinical study, establishing a proof of concept for germline-targeting vaccine design for HIV and other diseases. BnAbs have been shown to be capable of providing protection against HIV infection but inducing them via vaccination has yet to be achieved, partly because bnAbs rarely develop during infection and because bnAb-precursor B cells are rare in humans. In the IAVI-sponsored trial, which is reported in this week's Science, a team led by researchers from ​​​​​​there and Scripps Research Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, and the National Institutes of Health evaluated the safety and immune responses of a vaccine designed to recruit bnAb precursors via germline-targeting in order to produce such antibodies against HIV. They find that the drug candidate had a favorable safety profile and induced bnAb precursors in 97 percent of those treated. "The results establish clinical proof of concept for germline-targeting vaccine priming, support development of boosting regimens to induce bnAbs, and encourage application of the germline-targeting strategy to other targets in HIV and other pathogens," the authors write.