TB vaccine in South African trials; blueprint will drive development

Tuberculosis (TB) affects around one-third of the world's population, and may have been around from Neolithic times. Despite its long human history, there is only one vaccine currently available for the prevention of tuberculosis, the Bacillus Calmette-Guérin or BCG vaccine, which was first discovered in 1908 and has limited effectiveness in adults. According to reports from a meeting to launch "Tuberculosis Vaccines: A Strategic Blueprint for the Next Decade," a new vaccine is expected to complete the first advanced clinical trials in South Africa in 2013. South African researcher Dr. Hassan Mohomed told the Associated Press that even if the trials are not successful, it will still help scientists understand the disease.

The blueprint, created by tuberculosis researchers and the Stop TB Partnership Working Group, was published in a supplement of the journal Tuberculosis. This global plan of action aims to support coordination between scientists developing TB vaccines, clinicians, advocates in endemic communities, vaccine manufacturers, and governments and funders. According to an introduction from Christine F. Sizemore and Anthony S. Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), "getting the first new TB vaccine expeditiously into the hands of healthcare workers can be accomplished only through continued and close collaboration among all stakeholders."

"The TB vaccine blueprint provides an enormous opportunity to coordinate efforts to halt the spread of this devastating disease," said Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi, the Minister of Health of South Africa.

Tuberculosis vaccine developer Aeras has received a grant of up to $220 million over 5 years from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Mike Brennan, one of Aeras' advisors, told the Associated Press that the blueprint launch followed "tremendous progress."

 "Ten years ago, no vaccine was in clinical trials. We are at a key time now when we have the hope of a new vaccine being developed over the next 10 years," he added.

- read the article from Stop TB Partnership
- see the release from Aeras
- check out the strategy blueprint
- read the article from the Associated Press, via the Washington Post