Researchers found hope in the quest for a new, more effective tuberculosis vaccine in the form of a protein. According to scientists in the UK, the EspC protein showed more promising results than the only current TB vaccine, BCG. But the scientists are quick to point out that a subsequent vaccine could be years down the road.
EspC caused a greater immune response in patients with TB than any other molecule, including BCG. "We've shown that EspC, which is secreted by the bacterium, provokes a very strong immune response, and is also highly specific to Mycobacterium tuberculosis," said Professor Ajit Lalvani of the Imperial College of London, who lead the research, to BBC. "This makes it an extremely promising candidate for a new TB vaccine that could stimulate broader and stronger immunity than BCG."
The study will be published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. EspC is one of three potential TB vaccine targets, according to BBC source Dr. Peter Davies, the secretary of TB Alert.