- ABOUT AERAS
- ABOUT TB & VACCINES
- OUR APPROACH
What is a Vaccine?
Vaccines are critically important to public health. Since the first smallpox vaccine was introduced in the late 18th century by Edward Jenner, an English country doctor, vaccines have saved the lives of millions of people around the world.
Vaccines work by stimulating the body's immune system to recognize and fight off the disease-causing agents. In most cases, weakened or killed microorganisms are injected into the body. This causes the immune system to develop antibodies to those organisms without the person ever becoming sick.
When the immunized person encounters live or full-strength microorganisms later on, their body's immune system is able to immediately recognize the threat and make the appropriate antibodies, thereby preventing illness. Vaccines have been created for many once-deadly diseases, including polio, mumps, measles and smallpox.
TB VaccineA vaccine against tuberculosis, the Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine, has existed since 1921. Unfortunately, its efficacy is highly variable and in some trials has been shown to be disappointingly low. Though the BCG vaccine, developed from a strain of TB affecting cattle, is the most widely distributed vaccine in the world, administered to over 100 million babies annually, TB still kills over 1.8 million people every year.
The high rate of TB in developing countries has been exacerbated by many causes, including the HIV/AIDS pandemic and the growth of drug-resistant forms of TB. Therefore, one of the highest priorities of TB research is to develop one or several more effective vaccines.
Next-Generation TB VaccinesIn the past decade, several new vaccine candidates for TB have entered clinical testing in humans. This is significant progress for the field of TB vaccine development.
Many of these vaccines are designed to over-express certain TB antigens that are recognized by the immune system, thereby further preparing the body's defenses for exposure to the actual microbe that causes TB. Others function to prevent the germ from hiding in cells, a strategy which allows it to hide from the body's immune system. New TB vaccines to prevent childhood and adult forms of TB, to prevent progression of latent TB infection to the active disease stage, and to shorten drug treatment regimens or reduce the risk of relapse, can all fundamentally alter our approach to TB control.
Prime-Boost StrategyScientists in the TB vaccine field are pursuing a "prime-boost" strategy. An initial vaccine, either the existing BCG vaccine, a new recombinant BCG (rBCG), or a novel vaccine would be administered first. This "prime" inoculation would be followed by a "booster" shot.
Researchers believe this "prime-boost" strategy will not only enhance protection, but also extend protection over a longer period of time. This is a critical concern when you consider that the highest level of TB infection is among young adults.
TB vaccines under development could:
> click to view our portfolio of vaccine candidates
> click to download the Stop TB Partnership's TB Vaccines Pipeline
(.pdf - 672kb)
> Click to view the TB Vaccine Blueprint