A newly-developed vaccine offers better protection from tuberculosis in monkeys than the only currently available vaccine. A paper published online in Nature Communications shows that this vaccine induces a strong response from the immune system and protects animals infected with a lethal dose of Mycobacterium tuberculosis - the pathogen causing the disease. Tuberculosis remains a global pandemic, partially due to the limited protective effect of current vaccination approaches. Novel vaccines are therefore urgently required.
Deepak Kaushal and colleagues developed a vaccine using a modified version of Mycobacterium tuberculosis that does not have the potential to cause the disease but is capable of inducing a specific immune response. In macaque monkeys, this vaccination, which is administered by inhalation, confers a high level of protection from subsequent infection with a high dose of the bacterium, leading to improved immune response and decreased disease symptoms. Importantly, this protective effect was much stronger than that produced when the animals were vaccinated with BCG, the only vaccine currently used against tuberculosis.
The approach presented in this study, using aerosol vaccination with attenuated Mycobacterium tuberculosis, could be the first step in developing new and more potent vaccine candidates.