The vaccination of the final child marks a significant milestone in the development of the MVA85A/AERAS-485 vaccine candidate, the most advanced of any of the new generation of preventative TB vaccines currently being investigated.
Tuberculosis kills 1.8 million people per year, and more than 2 billion people worldwide are infected with TB – approximately one in every three people on the planet. Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) is currently the only available vaccine against the disease. It provides some protection against TB in children; however, it provides only variable protection against pulmonary TB, which accounts for most of the worldwide disease burden. New vaccines, therefore, are urgently needed to combat the problem.
The new vaccine, called MVA85A/AERAS-485, is given to children after the BCG and is designed to boost the body’s immune response to the vaccine, improving the level of protection. It was originally developed at the University of Oxford by Dr Helen McShane, a Wellcome Trust Senior Clinical Research Fellow, working with Dr Sarah Gilbert, a Reader in Vaccinology, and Professor Adrian Hill, a Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellow.
A double-blinded phase IIb trial of MVA85A/AERAS-485 was launched in 2009 and conducted at the TB vaccine research site of the South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative (SATVI) of the University of Cape Town, in partnership with Aeras, the Oxford-Emergent Tuberculosis Consortium Ltd and the Wellcome Trust.