Researchers Discover ‘Revolutionary’ Tuberculosis Vaccine

Despite clearing clinical trials, the vaccine is expected to be licensed only by 2028.

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 30 – A team of researchers has formulated a “game changer” vaccine for tuberculosis (TB), a highly infectious disease that kills 1.5 million people globally every year.

The vaccine is made up of proteins from bacteria that trigger an immune response, which will provide long-term protection against the disease.

“What is really remarkable is that it was effective in adults who were already infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis that is the causative agent of TB,” said Dr David Lewinsohn, a TB expert, as quoted by the BBC.

“As most people who are infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis do not get TB, we have believed that infection confers some degree of protection. As a result, it is really exciting that a vaccine has been shown to improve on this natural immunity.”

The vaccine has cleared a critical phase of clinical trials and been tested on more than 3,500 adults in TB-endemic regions of South Africa, Kenya and Zambia.

“It is likely that the vaccine will need to be tested in additional populations, and possibly bigger trials before it will be licensed. Assuming the data holds up in the remaining trials, which seems likely, this vaccine has the potential to revolutionise TB treatment.”

Despite that, it will take a few years for the drug to be licensed.

Dr Lewinsohn explained that if all goes well, the vaccine should reach people who most need it by about 2028, as researchers say proving that the vaccine works often requires studies that are much larger than required for viral diseases such as measles.

In 2018, around 10 million people were known to fall sick with TB, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), and nearly 25 percent of the world’s population has latent TB infection.

The WHO aims to reduce the number of new TB cases by 90 per cent and the number of TB deaths by 95 per cent between 2015 and 2035.

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