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Open Access TB Vaccine Development

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Tuberculosis (TB) remains one of the major causes of death and disease worldwide. With one quarter of the global population infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb) and over one million annual deaths from the disease, there is an urgent need to develop an effective vaccine. Leading the charge on TB vaccine development is Professor Helen McShane at Oxford University's Nuffield Department of Medicine, UK. Since 2001, Professor McShane has directed the TB vaccine research group with a goal of developing and evaluating new TB vaccine candidates. In doing so Professor McShane has conducted a series of clinical trials in the UK, and high burden TB countries including The Gambia, South Africa, Senegal and Uganda.

To address the inadequate global control of TB, and HIV-associated TB, Professor McShane and her team have developed several new vaccines, the first of which is called Modified Vaccinia Ankara virus expressing antigen 85A (MVA85A). MVA85A was developed as a BCG boost to improve BCG-induced protection against M.tb. Any new vaccine regimen needs to undergo extensive testing. Once found to be effective, a new regimen will be licensed and made available to the public.

Questions regarding the disease transmission cycle, the host protective immune response and the development of vaccines safe in HIV-infected individuals still need to be addressed, before we will have an effective vaccine.

Since 2013, McShane's lab has been pursuing three separate ways to improve the MVA85A vaccine. The first way is to combine the vaccine with another virus that expresses the same antigen, to induce a stronger immune response in the host. The second way is to continue to test the effect of delivering MVA85A by aerosol, as opposed to intradermal injection. Finally, the third way to improve MVA85A is to identify additional novel protective antigens, or molecules that are able to protect the host against infectious and non-infectious diseases, to add in to the Ag85A already in these vaccines.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2018

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