Non-profit teams with mining company for TB vaccine trials

Aeras, a non-profit organization with 12 tuberculosis vaccine candidates, has agreed in principle to a deal with Anglo American to make its Southern African mines available for vaccination trials.

TB rates are close to the highest in the world in the gold mines of Southern Africa where miners simply pass it with a cough. For every 100,000 workers in the mines, approximately 3,000 have TB and many have drug-resistant, often fatal strains of the infection, Global Post reports.

Anglo American made the announcement on Tuesday at the GBCHealth Conference.

"The current vaccine we have for TB is useless," Brian A. Brink, Anglo American's chief medical officer, said, according to Global Post. "It's the biggest waste of money - it just doesn't work. Up to now there has been no investment in TB vaccines, but Aeras has done it."

Brink said that Anglo American, which is one of the largest mining companies in the world, must do much more in the fight against TB and HIV/AIDS.

"We are all worried about HIV/AIDS, but TB, which just goes alongside AIDS, that is really frightening," Brink said, according to Global Post. "If we can't manage the AIDS and TB epidemic, we are going to have a catastrophe."

Kari L. Stoever, the vice president of external affairs for Aeras, said that the proposal for the arrangement came together quickly and that more must be done to find new TB drugs and vaccines. There have been no new TB drugs developed in more than 40 years.

"We need more of an investment on the future in TB control and to develop these tools as quickly as possible," Stoever said, according to Global Post.