New Zealand scientists developing oral TB vaccine

Scientists in New Zealand recently announced that they are moving closer to creating the first oral tuberculosis vaccine.

The oral vaccination, currently being developed by Otago University and the Malaghan Institute, has demonstrated more potent and longer-lasting immune responses in mice than the currently used intramuscular vaccine, according to

For an oral vaccine to work, its bacteria need to be live and capable of surviving in the stomach's harsh environment.

Dr. Frank Aldwell and his colleagues at Otago University's Immune Solutions, Ltd., created Liporale, which coats the bacteria in protective layer, to protect the vaccine's BCG bacteria while in the digestive tract.

Dr. Joanna Kirman, who led the study, said the oral vaccine, which could be administered as either a syrup or a pill, has shown a long-lived, multi-functional immune response.

''Most importantly, it targets the mucosal immune system - a network of the gut and respiratory tract where the immune response is regulated differently from the systemic response triggered by injected vaccines," Kirman said, reports. "In 2010, New Zealand had its first case of extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR) which is incredibly difficult, and sometimes impossible, to treat. That is why we think prevention through vaccination is so important."