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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Moderna is set to start human trials for its experimental mRNA HIV vaccine as early as Thursday, the first time such a trial has ever been conducted.

The big picture: "There's a pressing need for new ways to prevent infection from viruses like HIV and influenza that conventional vaccines have struggled to address and to treat rare genetic diseases and cancers that kill millions each year," Axios' Alison Snyder writes. "Vaccines and therapies based on messenger RNA (mRNA) hold promise as a solution."

Details: To participate in the trial, participants have to be between the ages of 18 and 50 and not diagnosed with HIV. Moderna says it is looking for 56 participants.

What they're saying: "Even as we have shown that our mRNA-based vaccine can prevent Covid-19, this has encouraged us to pursue more-ambitious development programs within our prophylactic vaccines modality," said Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel in January, when the company announced the vaccine, per Clinical Trials Arena.

Go deeper: COVID-19 brings a new dawn for messenger RNA vaccines

Go deeper

Sep 15, 2021 - Science

Moderna suggests booster shots, citing clinical data

A box of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in Indonesia. Photo: Algi Febri Sugita/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Moderna vaccine's efficacy declines a year after it's administered, compared to protection seen in recently inoculated individuals, the vaccine maker announced Wednesday.

Driving the news: Moderna made its case for supporting booster shots, citing clinical trial data that demonstrate breakthrough infections are less common among participants approximately eight months after receiving the first dose compared to approximately 13 months.

DOJ sues American Airlines, JetBlue to block "unprecedented" alliance

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Justice Department on Tuesday sued American Airlines and JetBlue to block an "unprecedented series of agreements" that will consolidate the two airlines' operations in Boston and New York City.

Why it matters: The civil antitrust complaint alleges that the planned Northeast Alliance (NEA) "will cause hundreds of millions of dollars in harm to air passengers across the country through higher fares and reduced choice," the DOJ said in a release.

FBI: Body identified as Gabby Petito, death ruled a homicide

A memorial dedicated to Gabby Petito near City Hall in North Port, Fla. Photo: Octavio Jones/Getty Images

A body found in Teton County, Wyoming, on Sunday was confirmed to be the remains of missing 22-year-old blogger Gabby Petito, the FBI announced Tuesday.

Driving the news: The death was ruled a homicide by the Teton County coroner's office, the FBI said. The cause of death has not been determined.