Tuberculosis vaccine hopes dashed

Tuberculosis vaccine hopes dashed

Tuberculosis is the leading explanation for death among individuals with HIV in South Africa

A major trial of a brand new booster vaccine has led to failure, marking an important setback within the fight against tuberculosis (TB).

It was the primary big study in infants because the Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine was introduced in 1921.

BCG is barely partially effective against the bacterium that causes TB, that’s why several international teams are engaged on new vaccines.

The latest, referred to as MVA85A, didn’t protect babies who had already had BCG.

The trial, in South Africa, involved 2,794 healthy children aged four to 6 months, half whom received MVA85A and remainder a placebo.

They were followed up for a normal of 2 years.

The researchers, reporting inside the Lancet medical journal, found 32 cases of TB in folks that had received the vaccine compared with 39 within the placebo group.

This gave an effectiveness of 17%, that is so low as to be statistically non-significant.


Designed to lift the immune responses which were primed by the BCG vaccine, MVA85A have been undergoing human trials for greater than a decade, showing it to be safe and to stimulate a high level of immune response in adults.

Prof Helen McShane, from the University of Oxford, who developed the vaccine, said: “[It] induced modest immune responses against TB within the infants, but these were much not up to those previously seen in adults, and were insufficient to guard against the disease.

“That is the primary efficacy trial of a brand new TB vaccine since Bacille Calmette-Guérin, an important step in itself, and there’s much that we and others can learn from the study and the information it has produced.”

In an accompanying editorial Christopher Dye, of the arena Health Organization (WHO), and Paul Fine, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said although the consequences were disappointing they were “not a terminal prognosis for MVA85A, or for any of any other tuberculosis vaccines in development”.

They added: “Now’s a key moment in tuberculosis vaccine research.

“If the history of tuberculosis vaccine research teaches us anything, it’s to expect surprises. We have to go on playing the high-stakes game.”

The MVA85A study was funded by AERAS, the Wellcome Trust and Oxford-Emergent Tuberculosis Consortium.

AERAS, a not-for-profit organisation, was install to develop new TB vaccines. MVA85A was probably the most advanced of six vaccine candidates it really is helping develop.

Dr Tom Evans, interim CEO of AERAS said: “As a result of urgency to manipulate the worldwide TB epidemic, and despite these trial results, we remain steadfast in our belief that a much better TB vaccine would be developed and represents the proper hope for eliminating the disease.”

TB is an enormous global sickness with an estimated 8.7 million cases and 1.4 million deaths a year, consistent with the WHO.

The disease is the leading reason for death among individuals with HIV in South Africa.


Dr Richard White, an epidemiologist on the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Director of the TB Modelling and Analysis Consortium, said:

“This can be a very disappointing result, but this was just the primary of around 12 new tuberculosis vaccines currently being tested in humans and around 50 vaccine candidates currently being tested within the lab. It was a historic trial, the primary of a brand new TB vaccine for just about a century. It’s going to bring about much valuable knowledge to assist us design effective vaccines someday. “