Vaccine Might Help Prevent Active TB in Those Infected

TUESDAY, Oct. 29, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- In what could be a breakthrough against a centuries-old killer, scientists say they've had early success with a vaccine tied at preventing active tuberculosis in infected adults.

The experimental vaccine was tested in Africa and proved 50% effective in preventing the emergence of active disease in people infected with the TB bacteria, drug maker GlaxoSmithKline said in a news release.

A vaccine against TB already exists, but it's typically only given to children and is used only to curb the worst complications of the pulmonary disease. Researchers have long sought a vaccine that could be used in adults to help curb the spread of the illness.

While largely eradicated from the United States, TB remains a global scourge, killing about 1.5 million people worldwide in 2018, GSK said. Also, nearly one in every four people around the globe has latent tuberculosis infection -- meaning they could someday develop active disease.

But the new vaccine seemed to help keep active disease at bay for at least three years, the new study of almost 3,600 adults found.

"These results demonstrate that for the first time in almost a century, the global community potentially has a new tool to help provide protection against TB," Dr. Thomas Breuer, chief medical officer at GSK, said in the news release.

The findings were presented Monday at the 50th Union World Conference on Lung Health in Hyderabad, India. They were also published simultaneously in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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