Researchers target first new TB vax in decades

After years of inattention, health officials are preparing an ambitious set of field trials for the first new tuberculosis vaccine since 1920. And health officials in Uganda, where the vaccine will be tested in two of the country's districts, say fresh advances are badly needed.

"New TB drugs and vaccines will be important[;] they will change the lives of ordinary people. It is definitely important to have a new vaccine," said Anne Wajja, the country's head of TB vaccine studies. Only one TB vaccine exists, reports Reuters. The Bacille Calmette-Guerin shot was developed in 1920, and with the exception of rifabutin, there has been no new drug for TB in more than 40 years.

Ann Ginsberg, chief medical officer of the TB Alliance, said that "there is renewed attention to the problem, and awakening and rebuilding again after many years of lying fallow. It was only in the 80s and 90s when TB resurged in the west and north that everyone woke up and the U.S. Congress asked 'this (TB) exists?' New York City had to spend $1 billion in 1990 just to get the TB epidemic in New York City under control."

Progress on a new vaccine now could eliminate the disease. "We think that eventually we could prevent enough people from having the disease and acquiring (the bacteria) that the transmission rate will be so low that the disease will go away," said Jerald Sadoff, president of the Aeras Global TB Vaccine Foundation.

- here's the story from Reuters