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New Tuberculosis Vaccine Doesn't Protect Infants Says Study


A tuberculosis vaccine many had pegged as a potential savior for babies, MVA85A, has come up short in test against the disease in a South African study funded by AERAS, the Wellcome Trust and Oxford-Emergent Tuberculosis Consortium (February 4).

The trial surveyed 2,794 healthy children aged four to six months, half of whom received MVA85A and the other half a placebo. Researchers, reporting in the journal Lancet, reported 32 cases of TB in those receiving the vaccine opposed to 39 cases in those receiving the placebo—a statistically insignificant rate.

"It's pretty disappointing," said Dr. Jennifer Cohn, a medical co-ordinator at Doctors Without Borders, who was not part of the study. "Infants are at really high risk of TB but this doesn't seem to offer them any protection."

It was the first study of a TB vaccine in infants for 45 years, when a large trial affirmed the partial efficacy of what is still the only TB vaccine, called Bacille Calmette-Guerin, or BCG. While BCG can prevent tuberculosis that has spread beyond the lungs, it does not reliably protect against pulmonary TB, the most deadly form.

MVA85A was designed to increase the effectiveness of BCG in pulmonary TB infections.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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