Mice Playing Important Role in Promising New Tuberculosis Vaccine Trial

A new tuberculosis (TB) vaccine is showing promise in mice trials and if successful could be the first new TB vaccine since 1921, reports Science Daily. “Biobeads,” natural polyesters that non-TB bacteria assemble into small spheres, are used by the vaccine as a vehicle to deliver antigens from the TB bacterium into the immune system. In earlier studies, these E. coli biobeads provoked immune responses in mice that could potentially protect against TB. 

According to principal investigator Axel Heiser, PhD, “We saw evidence of cell-mediated immunity with the potential to be protective against TB. Future studies will include a vaccination followed by challenge with TB to show protection, and also the development of more efficient production and purification methods for the vaccine.” Using these mycobacterial biobeads could provide a new, cost-efficient alternative to live vaccines by creating a platform for combining large antigenic capabilities without the use of infectious material.   
 
The news of a potentially new TB vaccine for global public health is very noteworthy, especially for low and middle-income countries. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 10.4 million people contracted TB in 2015, resulting in 1.8 million deaths worldwide. The World Health Organization says that nearly half a million of the new cases were multidrug-resistant, with 95% of the deaths occurring in low and middle-income countries. 
 
The availability and effectiveness of a new TB vaccine would be a tremendous advancement for public health worldwide. The nearly century-old vaccine has numerous shortcomings, one of which is possibly creating the infection in immunocompromised patients.  
 
To read news coverage on this exciting discovery, please click here.