New tuberculosis vax could improve protection

Aug 23, 2019

Australian researchers from the Centenary Institute and the University of Sydney have successfully developed and tested a new type of vaccine targeting tuberculosis.

First reported in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, the early-stage vaccine was shown to provide substantial protection against TB in a pre-clinical laboratory setting.

Tuberculosis  is the world’s leading infectious cause of death. It is estimated that about a third of the world’s population are infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis. There currently exists only one vaccine for TB (known as BCG) and it is only effective in reducing the risk of disease for infants.

The current vaccine fails to prevent infection or provide long term protection in older individuals and it isn't considered suitable for use in individuals with an impaired immune system.

The experimental vaccine directly generates immunity in the lungs.

"Two peptides (small proteins) which are normally found in tuberculosis bacteria were synthesized and then bound extremely tightly to an adjuvant (a stimulant) that was able to kick-start the immune response in the lungs," said Dr Anneliese Ashhurst, co-lead author of the reported study. "We were then able to show that when this vaccine was inhaled into the lungs, it stimulated the type of T cells known to protect against TB. Importantly, we then demonstrated that this type of vaccine could successfully protect against experimental airborne TB infection," she said.

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