💉 Tuberculosis kills 1.5 million people around the world each year. This vaccine could revolutionize treatment and provide long-term protection.
It has already cleared a critical phase of clinical trials and been tested on more than 3,500 adults in TB endemic regions of South Africa, Kenya and Zambia, researchers said.
However, while initial trials have proved successful, the vaccine is still a few years away from being licensed.
David Lewinsohn, a TB expert, told the BBC the potential vaccine was a “real game-changer”.
“What is really remarkable is that it was effective in adults who were already infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis that is the causative agent of TB,” he said.
“As most people who are infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis do not get TB, we have believed that infection confers some degree of protection. As a result it is really exciting that a vaccine has been shown to improve on this natural immunity.”
Dr Lewinsohn said the new vaccine had cleared a key “mid-phase development, and it is designed to test both safety and to provide an early indicator of efficacy”.
“It is likely that the vaccine will need to be tested in additional populations, and possibly bigger trials before it will be licensed. Assuming the data holds up in the remaining trials, which seems likely, this vaccine has the potential to revolutionize TB treatment.”
In 2018 an estimated 10 million people fell ill with TB, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The WHO aims to reduce the number of new TB cases by 90% and the number of TB deaths by 95% between 2015 and 2035.