New targets for tuberculosis vaccine

Better vaccines are needed for the global fight against tuberculosis (TB) with nine million new cases annually. Indonesia had more than 320,000 reported cases in 2014, while Australia’s reported cases were just over 1,000. But the rise of drug-resistant TB poses a threat to all countries.

Two proteins from the tuberculosis bacterium have shown promising results in investigations for a new vaccine in mice. Scientists from Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) in Yogyakarta, with colleagues from the Centenary Institute and the University of Sydney in Australia, have found that the injected proteins can prime the immune system to induce protection against TB in mice.

The team hopes the proteins could provide support for the Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine—which is 90 years old and the only vaccine currently available for TB. BCG’s effectiveness varies geographically between zero per cent and 80 per cent, and tends to be lower in the tropics. They will be testing 40 tuberculosis patients in Yogyakarta and another 40 people who do not have tuberculosis.

The team, which has received funding from The Australia-Indonesia Centre, has already established a laboratory and immunological techniques to test if the two proteins from the tuberculosis bacterium can be used as the basis for the vaccine.

Credit for banner image: Sanofi Pasteur.