, SHANGHAI, China, Apr 21 – Researchers are now working on a strategy to introduce the safest and most effective Tuberculosis vaccines that reduce the disease worldwide through partnerships and creative mechanisms.
At the beginning of the 4th Global Forum on TB vaccines in Shanghai, China, the researchers underscored the need for urgent safe and effective TB vaccines.
David Lewinsohn, Chair, Stop TB Partnership Working Group on New Vaccines said the new TB vaccines will be a keystone of global efforts to eliminate TB.
Lewinsohn said the recent End TB Strategy adopted by the World Health Assembly is predicated on the introduction of new, more effective technologies to prevent, diagnose and treat TB, including new TB vaccines.
“The overarching theme of the 4th Global Forum on New TB Vaccines is new and innovative approaches to prevent TB. We must work together to discover the breakthroughs, the true game-changers that will transform the field,” he said.
He reiterated the need for collectively developing novel scientific approaches to TB vaccines to be able to find more efficient and cost effective ways to advance the field.
“We must be able to mobilise resources to sustain the pipeline, to foster new partnerships and collaborations and to reach new audiences to build support for TB vaccine research and development,” he said.
He noted that such forums provides a unique opportunity for researchers to come together to learn about the latest research findings and engage in a global dialogue about the path forward for TB vaccine R&D.
Two non-profit organizations at the forefront of some TB vaccines development, the US based Aeras and the Netherlands-based Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative (TBVI) united in calling for a unified global approach to TB vaccine development.
Tom Evans, CEO of Aeras said tuberculosis is a major public health threat, tied with HIV as the leading cause of death globally among infectious diseases, yet the world is behind in vaccine development.
Evans pointed out that lack of acknowledgement of the TB health threat and the resultant lack of investment in new tools are some of the drawbacks in vaccine development.
“One of the reasons the global TB vaccine community is excited to meet in China is the level of commitment we’ve seen from the authorities here to innovative research, including development the world’s only TB vaccine candidate currently in a Phase 3 trial,” he said.
He further announced that there are currently 14 vaccine candidates in various stages of clinical testing, including GSK’s M72+AS01E candidate, which is currently in Phase 2b testing at sites in Africa.
A member of the scientific team of TBVI, Tom Ottenhoff said there is much development on TB global clinical trials but more attention should be put on how TB attacks the body despite the natural immune response.
“The global clinical trial pipeline for TB vaccine is more robust than ever before, yet at the same time there is still much we need to learn about how TB exactly attacks the body and manages to evade the natural immune response,” he said.
He lauded the effort by the TB vaccine community to come together for such forums in order to coordinate joint research efforts.