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TB vaccine results announce a promising step towards ending the emergency

29 Oct 2019

Results from a study, presented today at TBScience 2019, demonstrated a sustained level of protection against active tuberculosis (TB).

The vaccine, known as M72/AS01E and developed by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), contributed to preventing TB in 50 percent of people receiving it, representing a significant advancement towards ending the TB emergency. This would be the first new vaccine for preventing TB – the leading cause of death by infectious disease – in nearly a century. The only vaccine against TB currently available is BCG, which was developed in 1921 and does not provide proven and consistent protection in adults in TB-endemic countries.

Dr Paula I Fujiwara, Scientific Director of The Union said: “We are one more cautious, but exciting, step closer to a vaccine for TB.

“A vaccine is the ultimate prevention tool and the announcement today is welcome news, but as researchers discuss how to move the trial into its final phase, we simultaneously need to be doing all we can to prevent TB with medications that we already have at our disposal.

“TB is a disease that is preventable, treatable and curable, yet last year it killed 1.5 million people, more than HIV/AIDS. We cannot end the TB emergency unless we dramatically scale up prevention in those parts of the world where we are treating it. The cost of inaction is more unnecessary suffering and death”, said Dr Fujiwara.

The Phase 2b randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study was conducted at 11 sites in Kenya, South Africa and Zambia, in TB endemic regions. Final analysis, conducted after 36 months of follow-up, was published today in the New England Journal of Medicine and presented at TBScience 2019, as part of the 50th Union World Conference on Lung Health. Now GSK will work with partners to build an end-to-end model to further develop the candidate vaccine ensuring it is progressed diligently.

Also at the press conference, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), reported that they had awarded US $30 million in first-year funding to establish new centres for immunology research to accelerate progress in TB vaccine development. Three institutions had been awarded the new contracts, which establish and provide up to seven years of support to determine the immune responses needed to protect against Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

Today’s announcements were made at a press conference during the second annual TBScience 2019, an official event entirely devoted to basic and translational TB research.

View a sample of the media coverage the press conference received from the BBC, Agence France Press, Associated Press (AP), El País, and the Times of India.

#UnionConf2019

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