TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2016

Oxford researchers find new TB biomarkers

Immune correlates, or biomarkers, are used to measure if a vaccine has successfully induced immunity. | File photo
Researchers led by Oxford University scientists have identified new biomarkers for tuberculosis that will further our understanding of the variable effectiveness of the Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine and aid in the development of new vaccines.

"For the first time we have some evidence of how BCG might work, and also what could block it from working,” London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine’s Dr. Helen Fletcher said. “Although there is still much work to do, these findings may bring us a step closer to developing a more effective vaccine for TB."

While the BCG vaccine is safe and widely used around the world, it is estimated to be 50 percent effective in preventing severe disease in children and ranges from 0 to 80 percent effective in protecting against lung disease. Immune correlates, or biomarkers, are used to measure if a vaccine has successfully induced immunity.

'We looked at a number of factors that could be used as immune correlates, to try and find biomarkers that will help us develop a better vaccine," Helen McShane, who led the research team, said. “These are useful results which ideally would now be confirmed in further trials. They show that antigen-specific T cells are important in protection against TB, but that activated T cells increase the risk.”

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