Experts meet on latest advancements in TB research

The international "TB Vaccines for the World" conference was held this week, bringing together international experts on tuberculosis research for three days in Orlando, Florida.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis infects one-in-three people on the earth, resulting in seven to eight million cases of active TB and three million deaths annually.

The available current means of fighting TB are inadequate, according to experts, and new methods must be created, which is the goal of biomedical TB research. The new methods would decrease the public health burden of TB by providing diagnostic, therapeutic and intervention strategies.

The keynote lectures at the conference, titled "BCG Myths and Realities" and "Current TB Vaccine Trial Status," were presented by Texas A&M's Prof. David N. McMurray and Aeras' Dr. Ann Ginsberg, respectively.

Several sessions were held at the conference on TB vaccine candidates, including "Clinical, radiographic, and bacteriologic phenotypes of TB disease in an ongoing South African TB vaccine trial: a preliminary analysis," which was lead by Dr. Mark Hatherill of the South African TB Vaccine Initiative, and "Estimating incidence rates for adults/adolescents from routine health system data for TB vaccine efficacy trials," which was presented by the South African TB Vaccine Initiative's Dr. Hassan Mahomed.

Additionally, Prof. Helen McShane of the University of Oxford lead a session titled "Insights from TB vaccine trials." McShane discovered the MVA85A vaccine candidate, which is considered to be the furthest along in the pipeline of TB vaccine candidates.

MVA85A is being developed in a joint venture between Emergent BioSolutions, Inc., and the University of Oxford's Oxford-Emergent Tuberculosis Consortium in collaboration with Aeras and SATVI. The candidate is currently in phase 2b clinical trials, which are sponsored by Aeras and funded by Aeras and the Wellcome Trust.