HVTN 302 Study


What is the HVTN 302 study?

The HVTN 302 study is a phase 1 clinical trial looking to evaluate the safety and immunogenicity (how the immune system responds) to three different HIV trimer mRNA vaccines in healthy, HIV uninfected adults.


How does a vaccine work? 

Vaccines work by teaching your immune system to recognize any foreign pathogen, including HIV that enters your body. Your immune system sounds an “alarm” calling the fighter cells and proteins into action, and ultimately helps the body to prevent or control an infection and protect against a disease. The HVTN 302 study is evaluating the safety and immune response of three different HIV trimer mRNA vaccines. The study vaccines are experimental, which means we do not know if they will be safe to use in people, or if they will prevent HIV infection. The study vaccines cannot actually give someone HIV. But because they are experimental, we do not know if they will change someone’s chances of getting HIV if he or she is exposed. 


Understanding the HVTN 302 study vaccines

Each of these 3 vaccines is made using messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) technology developed by Moderna, which is a piece of genetic code carried into your body by the vaccine as a message with instructions, in the same way that the mRNA vaccines against COVID instruct the body’s cells to make the SARS‐CoV‐2 spike protein. Instead of showing your immune system actual pieces of HIV, the vaccines carry instructions that show human muscle cells how to make small pieces that look like parts of HIV. When people get a vaccine injection in the muscle of their arm, the cells in that muscle will get the instructions and start to make the different types of HIV pieces, and to display these pieces on the muscle cell’s surface. The immune system will be able to see these HIV pieces and learn how to recognize them. Researchers hope that the immune system will respond by making antibodies and T‐cells that could fight HIV if a person is ever exposed to the real virus in the future.