A US-based research team has created a potential new human tuberculosis treatment drug that's already demonstrated its effectiveness and safety in trials involving mice.
Details of its performance appear in Nature Medicine, in a report that looks at the work carried out by a group at New York's Albert Einstein College of Medicine. This covers the TB vaccine's progression and trial phases and, while it establishes that it can work on mice, it warns that it might not yet be ready for human-based phased trials. That time, though, might not be too far away.
Data published by WHO (the World Health Organization) indicates that over 30 per cent of the global population can expect to contract TB and, each year, the disease claims approximately 1.7m lives. The situation's compounded by the rise of TB strains that drugs cannot destroy.
Effective New Tuberculosis Vaccine
The NY team decided that, in order to study how to produce an effective new tuberculosis vaccine, they'd look at how Mycobacterium tuberculosis - the bacteria responsible for TB - is able to suppress the immune system. They did this by examining another, closely-linked type of bacteria - Mycobacterium smegmatis.
While the smegmatis form is safe in human exposure terms, it kills mice at high concentrations.
Tuberculosis Vaccine Trials
Led by Professor William Jacobs, the team produced an artificial M. smegmatis variation which, when injected into the mice, produced a significantly higher survival rate, as he explained in a statement on the tuberculosis vaccine trials. "Most notably, those vaccinated animals that survived for more than 200 days had livers that were completely clear of TB bacteria, and nobody has ever seen that before", he said.
"We don't even know yet if it will work in humans, but it's certainly a significant step in efforts to create a better TB vaccine."
Pharma International previously looked at the work undertaken by scientists in the UK who, in March 2010, reported that they'd discovered a compound that could act as a platform on which to base future TB drug treatments.
Their announcement coincided with the annual World Tuberculosis Day.