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TB vaccine for people with HIV

3rd November 2008

Results of a clinical trial of a vaccine for tuberculosis in people with HIV have shown promising results.

tbpatient

Researchers into the new vaccine's "DarDar" trial in the Tanzanian capital of Dar-es-Salam said it could significantly reduce rates of TB infection in HIV-positive individuals.

The results of the seven-year Phase III were presented at the 39th Union World Conference on Lung Health in Paris, the first successful demonstration of any protective effect against TB in HIV/AIDS patients.

TB accounts for around 40% of deaths in people with HIV/AIDS, making it the leading cause of death in this group.

In areas where drug resistance testing is unavailable, HIV/AIDS patients are at particular risk from multidrug (MDR-TB) or extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB).

HIV patients are usually not given the standard TB vaccination, the BCG, because it consists of live Mycobacterium.

With their weakened immune systems, HIV patients are at risk of contracting TB from the vaccine alone.

The new vaccine consists of dead M vaccae bacteria, and its safety in HIV patients has already been demonstrated in Phase II clinical trials.

In the DarDar trial in 2,000 HIV-positive subjects, the M vaccae vaccine produced a significant reduction in TB infections.

Of the vaccinated subjects - who made up half the group - 33 cases of TB were seen, while 52 cases occurred in the placebo group. They received five doses of the vaccine.

All 2,000 subjects had previously received the BCG and showed no signs of TB infection.

Study leader Ford von Reyn, professor of medicine at the US-based Dartmouth Medical School, said the vaccine was targeted specifically at HIV patients, and that he was delighted with the opportunity to offer protection to this group.

Co-researcher Kisali Pallangyo of Muhimbili University in Tanzania said the study showed that successful collaboration was possible between industrialised and developing countries to address an international problem.

An M vaccae-based vaccine will be cheap to produce and could be in use within three years, von Reyn added.

 

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