New TB Vaccine Goes on Trial

Medical Authors and Editors: Barbara K. Hecht, Ph.D. and Frederick Hecht, M.D.

Jan. 27, 2004 -- A promising new vaccine for tuberculosis (TB) is about to go into a clinical trial, according to a press release (below) from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

The new vaccine combines two TB proteins that stimulate strong immune responses in humans. These proteins were identified by screening blood samples from people who never became ill with tuberculosis despite long-term infection with the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which causes the disease.

The two TB proteins were fused by recombinant DNA technology, and then combined with adjuvants, substances that further boost the immune system's response to the vaccine.

The New Vaccine in Perspective

Anthony S. Fauci, MD, Director of NIAID provided perspective on the new vaccine.

"This is the first recombinant tuberculosis vaccine to reach human trials in the United States," said Dr. Fauci. "Indeed, this is the first new TB vaccine to be tested in our country in more than 60 years. This candidate vaccine, as well as other novel products emerging from the TB research and development pipeline, offers hope for reducing the burden of a disease that claims approximately two million lives each year."