Indian scientists use TB-related bacterium to boost TB vaccine

Indian scientists hope to boost the effectiveness of the Bacillus Calmette-Guerin tuberculosis vaccine by utilizing the genes from a related bacterium.

The scientists believe they can use Mycobacterium indicus pranii, a harmless tuberculosis ancestor that feeds on decaying plant material, to fight drug-resistant forms of TB, as well as leprosy, according to

"Several new antigenic proteins that we identified in MIP are incidentally absent from vaccine strain BCG but present in both Mycobacterium leprae (leprosy germ) and Mycobacterium tuberculosis," Professor Anil K. Tyagi of the University of Delhi South Campus said, reports. "An exciting idea would be to transfer these genes to BCG by using biotechnology and to test the resulting vaccine strain against both TB and leprosy. If it works, that will be a massive plus for public health and disease control in India,"

Tyagi and other Indian scientists were among the first to study MIP in detail. Its genome was only recently sequenced, but it is being extensively evaluated for its biochemical and immunological properties. It is currently being used as an immunomodulator in TB and leprosy patients, but it has yet to be used to create a new type of vaccine, according to

"The information gained by our work will thus be used to develop new and effective treatment involving MIP," Tyagi said, according to