UTEP focuses on TB vaccine research

With all the attention on H1N1 and the seasonal flu, it might be easy to forget about other infectious diseases.

It is estimated that 2 million people die from tuberculosis worldwide every year.

The University of Texas at El Paso is conducting new research aimed at finding a vaccine for tuberculosis thanks to a $12 million federal grant, according to KVIA-TV

"It happens at three times a higher level across the border regions compared to anywhere else in the U.S," said Kristine Garza, an assistant professor at UTEP's biological sciences department.

"A large population that is coming back and forth across the international border everyday. That may help increase the influx of people who may have been exposed to TB in the past," said Kyle Johnson, another biology professor at UTEP.

Right now, other countries offer a vaccine with just a 30 percent chance of being effective. In the United States, there is no vaccine. Garza said nothing new has been developed in 50 or 60 years. Garza will oversee the new, specially designed labs that will study the variations of the disease. "We are uniquely situated so these new funds will be invaluable in getting the new initiative put forward," Johnson said.