New TB Vaccine Underway

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The World Health Organization (WHO) says that Tuberculosis kills about 1.7 million people each year and infects one out of three humans in the global scale. The disease is already very morbid in its original state but what makes it more threatening is the growth of multi-drug resistant strains of the bacteria. This calls for the need for more TB vaccines.

Animal studies have shown the effectiveness of a new TB (Tuberculosis) Vaccine. In the September issue of Nature Medicine, the study of a group of researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the University of Yeshiva New York was published. This study discussed how they developed the vaccine and how they carried out the tests among animal samples. According to the group, the said TB vaccine worked well among mice samples, but they are not yet sure if it would work as effectively among humans. Furthermore, they shared that they have to do further studies about this vaccine since only one out of five mice showed a positive effect from the vaccine.

According to the senior lead of the study, Dr. William Jacobs, there is only one vaccine being used by health sectors across the globe—the BCG or Bacillus Calmette-Guerin. However, this drug has not been consistent in providing protection against the TB causing bacillus. Jacob and his group decided to commence their study by understanding how Mycobacterium tuberculosis (the causative agent of TB), evades the human body.

They started out with a bacterium close to M. tuberculosis which is called M. smegmatis. The said bacterium was robbed of its ESX-3 genes, and these bacteria were infused in high doses to the animal samples. In effect, the researchers realized that the immune system of the samples elicited a staggering T-cell response, a kind of response expected in a successful TB vaccine. The T-cells are part of our immune system which are responsible in killing bacteria and viruses in our body.

However, when they tried this onto the M. tuberculosis bacteria, the said process didn’t work and the M. tuberculosis bacteria died once the ESX-3 genes were removed. To resolve the problem, the researchers infused the ESX-3 genes from the M. Tuberculosis bacteria into the ESX-3-robbed M. smegmatis. They infused these bacteria into the mice and resulted to the same response elicited prior. The mice were able to fight off the infection.

Eight weeks later, the infused the mice with the tuberculosis bacilli and found out that the vaccinated mice outlasted the control group with an average 135 days versus 54 days survival rate. The researchers also found a marked reduction in the amount of the TB bacteria in the bodies of the mice who were vaccinated.

The researchers shared that there is still a need to conduct further studies since only one out of five samples elicited the desired response but they assured that this study they carried out is an important step in developing a new TB vaccine which would be more effective than other vaccines widely used today.




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