The Way Forward for HIV Vaccine Development

October 6, 2022

HIV vaccine science is at a crossroads. New science, new findings from recent phase III trials that ended without efficacy, innovations learned from COVID-19 vaccines, and new approaches to trial design are all contributing to a period of innovation and transition in HIV vaccine development. AVAC’s latest blog, An HIV Vaccine: The challenges ahead, frames these issues and draws highlights from a webinar series AVAC convened earlier this year.

In July, the Treatment Action Group (TAG) released its 2022 annual overview of research and development in HIV, Hepatitis and TB; it included a specific report on HIV vaccines and passive immunization, or bNAbs. This pipeline report provides added context to our blog.

And for more on HIV vaccines, read the May JIAS Viewpoint, HIV vaccines in 2022: where to from here?; AVAC’s backgrounder on experimental medicine vaccine trials (EMVTs), and AVAC’s fact sheet of early phase trials testing mRNA-based HIV vaccines—a one-stop sheet including a expanded snapshot of up-to-date mRNA trials and additional resources to explore and learn more.

A few highlights from these resources include:

  • Research using mRNA technology for an HIV vaccine is in very early stages. This innovation could speed the research process, but cannot alone answer some of the most crucial questions bedeviling the advance of HIV vaccine research.
  • The development of quick, iterative trial designs has become crucial, as the field continues to try and answer a fundamental question: what immune response needs to be triggered for effective protection against HIV. The use of innovative trial designs, including experimental medicine vaccine trials (EMVTs) hold promise and potential, and should be prioritized.
  • Re-invigorated collaboration, recognizing the quest for an HIV vaccine as one of the greatest scientific challenges of the modern era, is essential to analyse closely what the field has learned to date, develop clarity on the critical scientific challenges and agree on a coordinated strategy to pursue answers.

Stay tuned for more updates on HIV vaccine R&D after next month’s bi-annual HIV Vaccine Trials Network meeting.