March 21, 2012

New Vaccine Strategy for Tuberculosis

(Ivanhoe Newswire) — New, more effective vaccines will be decisive in the fight against TB. More than 10 million children have been orphaned by the disease, which is rapidly becoming resistant to available treatment options. Top scientific experts, all over the world, are working together to develop a vaccine that will eliminate TB on all fronts and levels.

To address the many challenges posed by TB, ideal vaccine regimens must protect babies at birth from childhood TB, and prevent infection with the organism in older children and adults. A vaccine also is needed to protect people with latent TB who have not developed signs of the disease. The only currently existing vaccine is limited in its ability to impact the global TB epidemic. Known as Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG), it protects children from severe forms of TB in the first years of life, buy it endangers babies who have been infected with HIV by their mothers, and doesn´t protect the largest group of people infected with TB–adolescents and adults.

Creating more effective, safe vaccines against TB is a task that no one country or organization can do alone. The blueprint, titled ℠Tuberculosis Vaccines: A Strategic Blueprint for the Next Decade´ emphasizes that effective vaccines will remain out of reach unless the world scales up efforts to solves the scientific puzzles now hindering development of vaccines. Authors call for researchers, scientists, clinicians, advocates in endemic communities, vaccine manufacturers, and governments around the world to work together on creative new approaches from initial research in the laboratory to clinical trials in the field to global introduction.

TB vaccine research over the past decade has made advances that would have been unimaginable a decade ago. Between 2000 and 2010, scientists in the public and private sectors were able to move an unprecedented 15 vaccine candidates into clinical trials in a quest to see which scientific approaches held the most promise. Still there is much work to be done and now, more than ever, there is a need for intensified global collaboration, leadership, partnership and commitment.

"We began 10 years ago with an empty clinical pipeline, and we have made astounding progress," Dr. Michael J. Brennan, senior advisor for scientific and global affairs at Aeras was quoted saying "But we have to persevere. Given the trends we are seeing globally, failure to develop effective new vaccines for this disease puts everyone at risk."

However, "the TB Blueprint provides an enormous opportunity to coordinate efforts to halt the spread of this devastating disease," Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi, the Minister of Health of South Africa, a country that has played a vital role in ongoing clinical trials for TB vaccines, was quoted saying. "Governments have an important role to play, and guided by this common strategy we will do our part to make a vaccine a reality."

SOURCE, Tuberculosis, March, 2012