In 2015, there were 1.8 million deaths associated with TB and more than 10.4 million new cases diagnosed around the world. The development of new and effective TB vaccines is crucial as the only licensed anti-TB vaccine, Bacille Calmette–Guérin (BCG), does not effectively protect adults, and therefore does not prevent disease transmission.
With successful National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funding of $740K awarded during 2016, new research being led by Dr Andreas Kupz will focus on understanding the immune response to TB to generate new and better vaccines, protecting those most vulnerable and enhancing Australia’s biosecurity from the threat of TB.
The project builds on existing work and focuses on two streams of research. The first involves genetically manipulate live BCG bacteria to create a recombinant vaccine strain designed to evoke an immune response. The second stream will investigate how the vaccine is administered. Unlike other organs, immune cells within lungs often fail to elicit an effective immune response. By altering the method of administration, particular cells, known to produce an immune response can be targeted, and defend against TB.