GSK's new tuberculosis vaccine shows revolutionary success in early trials.

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HYDERABAD: In a major breakthrough in fight against tuberculosis (TB), a vaccine by pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has shown promising results in protecting half of the people who received the vaccine, experts said while presenting the results of the vaccine at the 50th World Conference on Lung health in Hyderabad on Tuesday.
Experts say the world is “one step closer” to a new tuberculosis vaccine after the success of an early human trial.

TB remains the world's most deadly infectious disease in terms of the number of people it kills and a new vaccine is seen as the best weapon with which to tame it.

The new vaccine, known as M72/AS01E, was tested at 11 sites in Kenya, South Africa and Zambia in about 3300 adults who were HIVnegative and whose blood tests showed they had latent TB, an infection that might or might now progress into active tuberculosis. An estimated 1.7 billion people have latent TB.

The study revealed that the vaccine could cut the number of people developing TB by half compared to those who didn’t receive the vaccine. The results of phase IIb clinical trials recorded an efficacy rate of 50% in adults who had latent TB-and were HIV negative.

The results of the study that also got published in the prominent medical journal New England Journal of Medicine today showed that of those who got two doses of the GSK vaccine, only 13 developed active TB during three years of follow up. However, by contrast, 26 of those who got a placebo progressed to active tuberculosis.
The new GSK vaccine could be the first new vaccine against the infectious diseases developed in a century and hence could prove to be a game changer in fight against TB, experts said. At present, Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine, which was developed in 1921, is given to children to prevent the infection in many countries, including India, which reports the maximum number of TB cases every year. However, the protection by BCG wears off in few years, leaving people unprotected against the infection.

“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. The study was conducted in partnership with GSK and IAVI.

To ensure that promising vaccine candidate gets developed and ultimately delivered to the population who are being threatened by TB, partnerships are needed , underlined Ann Ginsberg, senior technical adviser, International AIDS vaccine initiative (IAVI). “These are ground breaking results. The vaccine promises safety and efficacy in preventing HIV negative from developing TB”.

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