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TB vaccine target discovered

21st March 2011

Researchers from Imperial College London have identified a protein which could be used to develop a vaccination for tuberculosis. 

Vaccination1

Tuberculosis has a bacterial cause and the only existing vaccination, the BCG, does not work very well.

The disease is responsible for over 2 million deaths around the globe every year.

Around 9,000 people in the UK contract the disease every year, with the majority of cases found in large cities such as London.

Scientists are looking at new ways of creating vaccines in order to find one that is an improvement on the BCG jab.

Professor Ajit Lalvani, who headed the study at Imperial College London, said: "Despite most of the world's population having had a BCG vaccination, there are still nine million new cases of TB every year, so we urgently need to develop a more effective vaccine for TB."

The researchers managed to identify a new kind of protein known as EspC.

Professor Lalvani said: "We've shown that EspC, which is secreted by the bacterium, provokes a very strong immune response, and is also highly specific to Mycobacterium tuberculosis. This makes it an extremely promising candidate for a new TB vaccine that could stimulate broader and stronger immunity than BCG."

 

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