Fusing journalism and TB – telling the stories as they are

New vaccines against TB seem to be in sight

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JATB is proud to feature Jonanneke Nieuwenhuis, Associate, Communications and Advocacy Relations, TBVI for a second time. She has contributed valuable information on the status of new vaccines against TB. It is important for us to debate on what this progress means for India. How are we going to leverage this progress to make it work for us? Can we move towards replicating Pulse Polio for TB in case we get vaccines that work? Where is India’s own research in this very vital area? It would be interesting to know.
Bharathi Ghanashyam

New vaccines against tuberculosis seem to be within eyesight but many practical and financial issues have to be overcome. Although it will still take years to develop, test and license new products, researchers are optimistic about the progress that is being made. Now, funding and collaboration are some of the key requirements to push through.

Scientists came together at the annual research meeting of the TuBerculosis Vaccine Initiative (TBVI) early February. Here they presented each other their results, challenges and lessons learned. TBVI’s research network exists of partners from around forty different universities, institutes and industries. The aim of the network is to get new vaccines on the market around 2020 and to do so it has a broad portfolio in which various approaches to vaccine and biomarker research are being used.

In the past year, several vaccines have advanced to different stages of clinical trials. Just recently, a candidate vaccine from the Statens Serum Institute in Denmark attracted global attention from mainstream media because of its encouraging research results and also candidates from the UK, Germany, France and Spain are showing promising outcomes.

In order to eliminate tuberculosis, some challenging goals have to be set. While describing the route to new vaccines, Christian Lienhardt of the WHO stressed that more funding is needed. This was confirmed by Willem Hanekom of the South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative who said: “Ultimately it’s a resource issue”. Several researchers added the need for collaboration. Hanekom for example, calls for biomarker studies to be integrated in vaccine trials and for industries to become more involved. “We need critical players to unite.” It’s exactly for this reason that WHO’s Uli Fruth is happy about the TBVI network. Fruth: “I was delighted to see a plethora of collaborations that the consortium has stimulated amongst the partners, which in the absence of the TBVI structure would probably not have happened. I feel that it is these intensive and enthusiastic collaborations which have enabled the progress in research over the past year, which is nothing short of stunning.”

Recently, the European Parliament accepted a resolution for the European Commission, the Council and WHO to stress the importance of providing new tuberculosis vaccines. This kind of political support is essential. New, effective and safe vaccines can be delivered but for this to happen, combined efforts are needed of scientists as well as politicians, advocates, media, donors and industry. Incredible amounts of funding and energy have been invested already. Not finishing this project would be like building a house without putting a roof on.

Jojanneke Nieuwenhuis
Associate, Communications and Advocacy Relations, TBVI

The views expressed in the report are entirely of the author

Written by JournalistsAgainstTB

February 13, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Posted in TB and Media

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