"Trojan Horse" vaccine may aid in fight against TB and malaria

Researchers from the University of Notre Dame recently co-authored a study that points to a potential breakthrough in the fight against both tuberculosis and malaria.

Marvin Miller and Michael Ferdig published the results of their study in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, according to

In the multidisciplinary research project, the scientists were able to synthesize an iron transport molecule attached to an antibiotic. This causes the tuberculosis bacterium to accept and ingest something deadly to it - in this case, a peroxide drug. This method has proven successful for Miller in the past.

The peroxide drug artemisinin is a major anti-malarial but had proven ineffective against TB, which has a cell membrane that is difficult to pass through, reports. Chemistry triggered by the cell’s ongoing effort to use the iron in the transport cycle enables the drug to destroy the bacterium.

“It’s all about delivery and getting the lethal agent into the bacterium," Miller said, according to "Our study suggests that it works against TB by the same method that would work to kill malaria, which is pretty exciting.”

The Miller- Ferdig research demonstrates the feasibility of a “Trojan Horse” method of vaccine development and how it can be used in the fight against TB and malaria. Currently, the model is too complex for commercial use, but it is hoped that a more simplified version can be produced.