Better vaccines for tuberculosis could save millions of lives

August 28, 2012, Cell Press

Cases of one of the world's deadliest diseases—tuberculosis—are rising at an alarming rate, despite widespread vaccination. Reasons for the ineffectiveness of the vaccine, especially in regions where this infectious disease is endemic, as well as arguments for replacing the existing vaccine with novel synthetic vaccines, are presented in a review published online August 28th in Trends in Molecular Medicine.

"Tuberculosis is a global , and it is a highly communicable disease that may influence practically anyone and everyone," says senior author Javed Agrewala of the CSIR-Institute of Microbial Technology in Chandigarh, India. "There is a serious need and challenge for the scientific community to develop alternative vaccination approaches for the control of the disease."

Tuberculosis is a caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb). About one third of the world's population is infected with Mtb, which causes about two million deaths each year. Vaccines may be the best strategy for controlling tuberculosis, but the only available vaccine—Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG)—does not reliably prevent the disease in adults, especially in regions where tuberculosis is endemic.

In the review, Agrewala explains that BCG does not work well in these regions because exposure to prevalent mycobacterial strains triggers the production of antibodies that counteract the vaccine. In addition, infections with called helminths interfere with protective immune responses induced by BCG.

To overcome these limitations, Agrewala proposes the use of novel vaccines called lipidated-promiscuous-peptide vaccines. These synthetic vaccines are safer than BCG because they do not contain infectious material. Moreover, they generate long-lasting, protective immune responses and are not influenced by pre-existing antibodies. This type of vaccine strategy has already proven to be successful in an of tuberculosis and is being tested in human clinical trials for other infectious diseases and cancer.

"We believe that lipidated-promiscuous-peptide vaccines have all the essential qualities that can make them successful in tuberculosis-endemic countries," Agrewala says. "Such vaccines can impart better protection than and will have a long-reaching positive impact on millions of people."

Explore further: Tuberculosis vaccine being tested in Phase II trial

More information: Gowthama et al. "Lipidated promiscuous peptides vaccine for tuberculosis-endemic regions" dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.molmed.2012.07.008

Related Stories

Tuberculosis vaccine being tested in Phase II trial

March 26, 2012
The only tuberculosis vaccine currently available is already over 90 years old - and is unsatisfactory in terms of its effectiveness. Although it protects young children against developing tuberculosis, it quickly loses its ...

Recommended for you

New long-acting approach for malaria therapy developed

January 22, 2018
A new study, published in Nature Communications, conducted by the University of Liverpool and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine highlights a new 'long acting' medicine for the prevention of malaria.

Virus shown to be likely cause of mystery polio-like illness

January 22, 2018
A major review by UNSW researchers has identified strong evidence that a virus called Enterovirus D68 is the cause of a mystery polio-like illness that has paralysed children in the US, Canada and Europe.

Creation of synthetic horsepox virus could lead to more effective smallpox vaccine

January 19, 2018
UAlberta researchers created a new synthetic virus that could lead to the development of a more effective vaccine against smallpox. The discovery demonstrates how techniques based on the use of synthetic DNA can be used to ...

Study ends debate over role of steroids in treating septic shock

January 19, 2018
The results from the largest ever study of septic shock could improve treatment for critically ill patients and save health systems worldwide hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

New approach could help curtail hospitalizations due to influenza infection

January 18, 2018
More than 700,000 Americans were hospitalized due to illnesses associated with the seasonal flu during the 2014-15 flu season, according to federal estimates. A radical new approach to vaccine development at UCLA may help ...

Flu may be spread just by breathing, new study shows; coughing and sneezing not required

January 18, 2018
It is easier to spread the influenza virus (flu) than previously thought, according to a new University of Maryland-led study released today. People commonly believe that they can catch the flu by exposure to droplets from ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.