Researchers develop recombinant TB vax

Researchers at Saint Louis University have developed a vaccine for tuberculosis that may offer better protection than the one currently in use. The investigational vaccine is made from a weakened TB germ from one of the strains of the current TB vaccine, which was created over 75 years ago. The current vaccine is about 70 percent protective against deaths or meningitis from tuberculosis and about 50 percent protective against pulmonary tuberculosis.

In a phase I clinical trial researchers vaccinated 35 participants to monitor the immune system responses. The standard vaccine, Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG), was given to 17 participants, and 18 received the recombinant BCG vaccine. Researchers compared five immune functions induced by the vaccines and found that the immune system produced stronger responses than the standard vaccine, caused no safety concerns and was well tolerated.

This particular recombinant vaccine will not be tested further because it contains an antibiotic resistant gene that researchers want to keep out of the environment, according to the University's statement. Scientists at St. Louis University plan to continue with trials of a similar recombinant BCG vaccine that they expect to be even more potent, said Daniel Hoft, M.D., Ph.D., director of the division of immunobiology at Saint Louis University School of Medicine and lead author of the study.

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