Globally, tuberculosis remains the number one killer in adults. TB is a lung disease, caused by a bacterium. Health experts say a new person is infected with TB somewhere in the world every second.
A vaccine against tuberculosis, termed BCG is currently available which, however, fails to protect against the most frequent form of disease, pulmonary tuberculosis in adults. Moreover, multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis strains are on the rise, which cannot be treated by first-line drugs. A more efficient vaccine is urgently needed for control of this global threat.
A new vaccine has now been developed with the hope of helping combat the disease better and the efficacy will be tested in the 2006 clinical trials.
The recombinant vaccine has been shown to stimulate far more efficacious protection against tuberculosis than the BCG vaccine currently in use. This new vaccine induces cell death in the infected host cells; as a result, stronger protection against pulmonary tuberculosis has been achieved in preclinical studies.
Importantly, the new vaccine also protects against a special form of tuberculosis that are multi-drug resistant and more aggressive. It has been assumed that the new form of the organism has emerged in response to drug treatment and vaccination. The new genetically engineered BCG could provide a challenge against this threat.