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Efficacy of tuberculosis vaccine enhanced
Date:2/18/2011

Nele Festjens and Nico Callewaert of VIB and Ghent University have improved the efficacy of the vaccine for tuberculosis. The new vaccine affords - as already proven in mice - better protection against the disease. The development of a new tuberculosis vaccine is a priority in the fight against the disease which claims the lives of 1.7 million people each year. The current vaccine provides only partial protection.

Nico Callewaert: "Our vaccine is more effective because it is more quickly recognized by the immune system of the vaccinated person. We have, as it were, undressed the existing vaccine by removing its protective shield."

Tuberculosis: a worldwide problem

One third of the world population is infected with the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacterium which causes tuberculosis (TB). TB, AIDS and malaria are the three infectious diseases claiming the largest number of fatalities worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that each year 8 to 10 million people become infected. TB is in particular a disease of the poor and mainly affects young adults in their most productive years. Most TB fatalities are in the developing countries, more than half of them in Asia. In almost all of these countries, multidrug-resistant TB is becoming increasingly frequent. This form of TB is very hard to treat.

Prevention is better than cure

TB treatments are expensive and also very difficult because of multidrug-resistant TB. There has therefore been a strong focus on vaccination in the fight against TB. The only vaccine on the market is Bacillus Calmette-Gurin (BCG). It is produced from attenuated live bovine tuberculosis bacterium, Mycobacterium bovis, which has lost its virulence in humans. In children, the vaccine prevents only half of cases of tuberculosis and in adolescents and adults the degree of protection is much lower still.

In recent years, several other candidate vaccines hav
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Contact: Joris Gansemans
info@vib.be
329-244-6611
VIB (the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology)
Source:Eurekalert

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