Some promising news in the fight against tuberculosis came Tuesday from India, where results from trials of a new TB vaccine, the first in nearly 100 years, were presented at the 50th Union World Conference on Lung Health.
The vaccine, developed by British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and known as M72/AS01E, helped to prevent the development of TB in 50 percent of the people who received it. Those results come from a Phase 2b study of 3,575 adults conducted at 11 sites in Kenya, South Africa and Zambia.
All of the study participants were HIV-negative, and were followed for three years after drug administrations in accordance with the study protocols. The results of this phase of the TB-vaccine trial were published simultaneously in the New England Journal of Medicine even as they were celebrated in Hyderabad.
“These results demonstrate that for the first time in almost a century, the global community potentially has a new tool to help provide protection against TB,” said Dr. Thomas Breuer, Chief Medical Officer of GSK Vaccines. That’s all the more critical as TB becomes drug-resistant and difficult to treat.
Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for 24 percent of all TB infections in 2018, according to new data from the World Health Organization released two weeks ago. Nigeria and South Africa are among the eight nations that account for two-thirds of all global cases, though the report acknowledges progress in high-burden nations achieving their reduction targets. They include South Africa, as well as Kenya, Lesotho, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
Image: Union World Conference on Lung Health