Scientists make case for new TB vaccines

Researchers with the CSIR-Institute of Microbial Technology in Chandigarh, India, published a review on Tuesday of the ineffectiveness of the Bacillus Calmette-Guerin tuberculosis vaccine and the proposed use of lipidated-promiscuous-peptide vaccines.

Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection caused by the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacterium, which leads to approximately two million deaths annually. The BCG vaccine is the only vaccine available for the disease and it is not effective in reliably preventing the disease in adults, particularly in TB endemic regions, Cell Press reports.

"Tuberculosis is a global health threat, and it is a highly communicable disease that may influence practically anyone and everyone," Javed Agrewala, the senior author of the paper, said, according to Cell Press. "There is a serious need and challenge for the scientific community to develop alternative vaccination approaches for the control of the disease."

Agrewala said that BCG is not effective in TB endemic regions because exposure to the disease triggers antibody production that counteracts the vaccines. In addition, parasitic worms called helminths can interfere with the BCG immune response.

The paper proposes using lipidated-promiscuous-peptide vaccines that can generate long-lasting protective immune responses. The novel, synthetic vaccines were effective in an animal TB model and are being tested in human clinical trials.

"We believe that lipidated-promiscuous-peptide vaccines have all the essential qualities that can make them successful in tuberculosis-endemic countries," Agrewala said, according to Cell Press. "Such vaccines can impart better protection than BCG and will have a long-reaching positive impact on millions of people."