Aeras, GSK will test TB vaccine in India and Africa

Aeras, a non-profit biotechnology company, and GlaxoSmithKline will assess an experimental vaccine against tuberculosis in proof of concept tests in India and Africa.

The two companies plan to begin a mid-stage Phase IIb clinical study in Kenya, India and South Africa in 2013. The study will begin after initial tests with the GSK product are concluded, Reuters reports.

The new vaccine, developed by GSK, is being developed under an agreement with Aeras. It contains the pharmaceutical company's proprietary antigen M72 and the adjuvant AS01E. The adjuvant includes an ingredient licensed from the Agenus unit Antigenics.

The GSK vaccine is meant to be used with the currently available TB vaccine Bacille Calmette-Guerin. The BCG vaccine prevents some types of TB, but not pulmonary TB, a form that accounts for most of the infections and death.

GSK and Aeras will each provide resources to run the clinical trial in healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 50. The study is still pending approval from authorities.

TB is a major threat around the world that is getting worse because of emerging strains that are resistant to multiple antibiotics. The disease kills approximately 1.4 million people annually.

The proof of concept tests represent a step forward in the attempt to find new ways to prevent the deadly disease.

Aeras is working on multiple experimental TB vaccines with different partners, including one developed in a collaboration with Crucell and another created by University of Oxford scientists, Reuters reports.