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Oral vaccine could provide key to TB Immunity

Posted on 23/02/2011

The development of a new oral vaccine may help boost immunity to tuberculosis according to new research.

A study by researchers at Royal Holloway, University of London, in collaboration with the Universita Cattolica del Sacro in Rome and RecipharmCobra Biologics shows that the orally delivered vaccine produced higher immune responses than the injected DNA vaccine.

Research reveals the BCG vaccine is effective in protecting against the infant forms of tuberculosis, but has a limited and variable effect in adults against the pulmonary form of the disease, making the development of an improved vaccine critical in reducing the 8–10 million new tuberculosis infections per year.

In the study scientists developed the ORT-VAC vaccine which uses live Salmonella bacteria which have been modified so that they do not cause disease. The vaccine is a DNA vaccine, a relatively new vaccine approach where a gene from a disease-causing microorganism is used to stimulate an immune response.

Oral vaccines provide greater benefits because they can be stored at room temperature, are easily administered, reduce the concerns of adverse reactions and eliminate the need for needles, which is ideal in developing countries where HIV is rife.

Professor Simon Cutting, from the School of Biological Sciences at Royal Holloway, says: “This is a significant breakthrough in a major fight against a global pathogen. Tuberculosis remains a serious health risk in developing countries and kills millions each year. Being able to administer a TB vaccine orally will make a huge difference.”

The aim of this study was to develop an improved vaccine against TB that is both economic and easy to administer to encourage its use in low income countries, where the vaccine is most needed.


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