Vaccine experts to meet at South African TB forum to discuss research

A group of the world's top tuberculosis vaccine experts will meet this week in South Africa at the Third Global Forum on TB Vaccines to present new research aimed at developing vaccines to treat and prevent the disease.

The group will present the results of a study by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine that suggests newly developed tuberculosis-or TB-vaccines could prevent 67 million TB infections and eight million deaths by 2050, News Medical reports.

South African Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has set a number of targets to reduce TB outbreaks in the country, where the number of TB infections has increased by 400 percent in the past 15 years.

"We must be innovative in our approach to TB treatment and diagnosis, which is why I have made deployment of a faster new diagnostic tool a priority for the nation," Motsoaledi said, according to News Medical. "New, more effective vaccines must also be part of the solution, and I am committed to supporting their development led by the world's leading researchers, many based right here in South Africa."

Last week, the World Health Organization and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria made a call to action to fill a $1.4 billion annual funding gap for TB research and development.

"TB elimination can only be possible with intensified research and development particularly for new vaccines," Dr. Mario Raviglione, the director of the WHO's Stop TB Department, said, News Medical reports. "This area has a major funding gap and we need a wake-up call to investors to accelerate research efforts to make a potent TB vaccine a reality."