MVA85A tested in study with infants of HIV-positive mothers

Researchers in Cape Town, South Africa, recently began recruiting infants to participate in a study to test the MVA85A tuberculosis vaccine with newborns of HIV-positive mothers.

The current TB vaccine, Bacillus Calmette-Guerin, works with most healthy children, but the vaccine can cause complications in HIV-infected babies. The MVA85A vaccine was successfully tested in healthy adults, healthy children and HIV-positive adults, Fierce Vaccines reports.

"If this MVA85A vaccine study is successful, it will benefit in particular those babies at risk of HIV infection, who are also at high risk of getting TB," Mark Hatherill, the study's leader, said, according to Fierce Vaccines.

Researchers from the University of Cape Town's South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative and Stellenbosch's Desmond Tutu TB Center plan to recruit 340 newborn infants of HIV-positive mothers at two South African clinics. Half of the infants will receive MVA85A at birth and the other half will get a placebo. The infants born without HIV will get the BCG vaccine two months later.

In 2011, TB infected 8.7 million people worldwide and killed 1.4 million people, according to the World Health Organization. TB also causes one-quarter of all deaths of people living with HIV. People co-infected with HIV and TB are 21 to 34 times more likely to become sick with TB.

The MVA85A vaccine was developed by the Oxford-Emergent Tuberculosis Consortium, a joint venture between Oxford University and Emergent BioSolutions, Fierce Vaccines reports.