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Dirt-Dwelling Bug Blocks Tuberculosis in African Vaccine Trial

Discussion in 'JF Doctor' started by MziziMkavu, Jan 30, 2010.

  1. MziziMkavu

    MziziMkavu JF-Expert Member

    Jan 30, 2010
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    y Simeon Bennett Jan. 29 (Bloomberg) -- An experimental vaccine based on a germ found in soil cut tuberculosis infections among people with HIV, the first time a shot has been shown to reduce cases of the most common AIDS-related cause of death in poor nations.
    The shots reduced TB infections by 39 percent in patients who received them compared with those who got a placebo, according to a study published online by the journal AIDS today. The trial was stopped early, partly because of the clear effect of the vaccine, the study said.
    Tuberculosis and HIV are a lethal combination, each speeding the other’s progress, according to the World Health Organization. The only existing TB vaccine -- the Bacillus Calmette-Guérin, or BCG, shot, which has been used to protect newborns since 1921 -- has “minimal or no protective effect” on adults, researchers led by Charles von Reyn at Dartmouth Medical School said in the study.
    “Development of a new vaccine against tuberculosis is a major international health priority, especially for patients with HIV infection,” von Reyn and colleagues said in a statement.
    Tuberculosis has plagued man since prehistoric times. It infects about 8.8 million people and kills 1.7 million each year, according to the WHO. Medicines used to battle the bacterium are increasingly failing because the airborne bug has mutated, spawning strains that aren’t defeated by even the most powerful antibacterial drugs.
    Immune Response
    The vaccine is based on a disarmed form of Mycobacterium vaccae. The germ has been shown in previous studies to boost the immune response to TB in patients who were vaccinated as children with the BCG shot.
    Von Reyn and colleagues recruited 2,013 HIV patients in Tanzania who received BCG when young. They received five doses of the vaccine over a year, then were monitored every 3 months for a median of 3.3 years. Among those who got the vaccine, 33 were infected with TB, compared with 52 given a placebo. A further trial of a three-dose course should be considered, the authors said.
    Marketing rights to the vaccine are owned by closely held Immodulon Therapeutics Ltd. The London-based company will work with the Aeras Global TB Vaccine Foundation, based in Rockville, Maryland, to improve manufacturing methods for the vaccine to produce larger quantities of the shots for further research and use, according to the statement.
    The study was sponsored by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.