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Clinical trials for new TB vaccine

29th July 2007

The first new TB vaccine for 80 years is set to undergo clinical trials.

tbpatient

Oxford University experts say the injection could be given alongside the current BCG vaccine and would better protect people from a disease that kills more than two million people a year worldwide at a time that cases of drug resistant TB are becoming more common.

The new vaccine has already passed safety trials in the Gambia. The next phase will be in the Western Cape area of South Africa, where one in 100 infants have the illness and will be to establish if the extra injection works better than BCG alone.

In the UK the Health Protection Agency recorded more than 8,500 cases in 2005. At present the BCG vaccine is no longer given to all schoolchildren but only to groups with high rates of infection such as immigrants and the homeless.

The Oxford University and Wellcome Trust researcher leading the project, Dr Helen McShane said: “This vaccine is safe, and stimulates very high levels of the type of immune response we think we need to protect against TB. It is important for us to test whether or not this vaccine does work to stop people getting TB.?

The charity TB Alert said that the new breakthrough in the fight against the disease was a great step forward.

A spokeswoman added that if the vaccine proved to be safe, cheap and far more effective than BCG it may be worth reintroducing it as a universal immunisation in the UK.

 

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