New TB vaccine only years away

A new vaccine against the highly infectious disease tuberculosis could be available within the next eight years.

The only vaccine available to protect against TB, the Bacille-Calmette-Guerin vaccine, has been used for nearly 100 years and is often ineffective, according to IndiaTimes.com.

The World Health Organization recently announced that there are 11 TB vaccine candidates in Phase I or Phase II trials and one candidate in a Phase III trial. A new vaccine could significantly reduce the enormous costs associated with treating more resistant forms of the infection, especially in the world's developing countries.

"It is hoped that one or two of the candidates in a Phase II trial will enter a Phase III trial in the next three years, with the possibility of licensing at least one new vaccine by 2020," a WHO representative said, IndiaTimes.com reports.

The WHO said that two major approaches are being used to develop a new vaccine. One involves creating a vaccine that is more effective than BCG and replacing it as a frontline treatment. The second is to use BCG in infants, when it is more effective, and then use a new vaccine as a booster in young adults.

Of the 12 vaccine candidates currently in clinical trials, 11 are considered for prevention of TB and one is an immunotherapeutic vaccine.