UK – Researchers from the University of Oxford have launched the first phase trials of a novel mosaic vaccine targeting a ‘broad range’ of HIV variants.

The HIV-CORE 0052 trial, part of the European Aids Vaccine Initiative, will involve 13 healthy HIV-negative adults aged 18 to 65 years old who are not considered to be at a high risk of infection.

Participants are expected to receive one dose of the vaccine known as the HIVconsvX followed by a further boost dose at four weeks.

HIVconsvX, unlike other HIV vaccine candidates which are designed to induce antibodies generated by B-cells, is designed to induce the immune system’s T cells and targeting them to highly conserved and vulnerable regions of HIV.

This launch will be in line with the aim of the European AIDS Vaccine Initiative (EAVI) 2020 that was to accelerate the identification and development of an effective HIV vaccine that may have utility both to prevent infection and contribute to the establishment of long-term remission in those infected with the virus.

EAVI was developed in 2015 and its 2020 project had eight interlinked objectives and the first one was to design a minimum of ten new envelope-based vaccine candidates with the aim of progressing eight to manufacture and clinical testing.

Its second objective was to develop two candidate vaccines that evoke specific white blood cells (T cells) able to kill cells infected with HIV.

Third was to produce and formulate vaccine components that will later be advanced for human clinical trials.

Fourth objective was the development of advanced animal models to define predictive correlates of protection.

Fifth was to assess a range of novel immunogens in human clinical trials to determine safety of the approach and the ability to induce protective immune responses.

The sixth was the development of advanced immunological analysis to facilitate prioritization of HIV-1 vaccines and comparative analysis of human and animal responses.

Seventh objective was to develop new molecular tools to study the evolution of antibody sequences and gene expression studies.

The final objective was the generation and selection of a novel and diverse portfolio of promising HIV-1 prophylactic and therapeutic vaccine candidates for further clinical development.

With these objectives, EAVI2020 consortium continues to raise the profile of EAVI2020 HIV vaccine research to the scientific community, stakeholders in the HIV field, policy makers, and also to the wider public.

The quest for a vaccine against the virus has been elusive for more than 40 years and the university is eager to have the trials rolled out immediately in a bid to expedite the process of ensuring the disease in no longer a risk to human population.

Although the initial trial will take place in the UK, researchers also have plans to start similar HIV vaccine trials in Europe, Africa and the US.

Meanwhile, the Oxford investigators are anticipating results from the HIV-CORE 0052trial will be reported by April 2022.