Development of new tuberculosis vaccine

The development of a new and improved tuberculosis vaccine is on the way!  The Serum Institute of India has licensed patents for a promising vaccine, originally developed in Germany,  and are now planning to introduce it into the clinical setting. Studies have shown that the new vaccine is more effective and better tolerated than currently available options. By signing a contract with the Hannover-based Vakzine Projekt Management GmbH (VPM), Serum, one of the World’s leading vaccine manufacturers, has effectively secured the license to the various patents and technologies related to the new vaccine.

BCG

Picture: Bacteria of the attenuated tuberculosis vaccine strain (BCG) inside a macrophage, a scavenger cell of the immune system.
Courtesy: MPI for Infection Biology – CF Microscopy / Volker Brinkmann

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, Vakzine Projekt Management GmbH (VPM), and the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) co-developed the candidate vaccine called VPM1002 as part of a joint research project. The substance is currently undergoing phase II clinical testing.

Tuberculosis is an infection that affects over two billion people worldwide. The new vaccine is showing a lot of promise, the concept itself is highly innovative. Serum was chosen for licensing since it is able to ensure that the vaccine will be made available to people everywhere at a fair price.

VPM1002 is based on another vaccine that was first introduced in 1921 called Bacillus Calmette-Guérin, or BCG. The special thing about VPM1002 is that it is being continually refined using gene technology, causing it to prevent diseases much more effectively and safely than its predecessor. Preclinical studies, two phase I clinical trials, and one phase II clinical trial have already met expectations.

To this day, BCG is still the single most commonly administered vaccine. However, at this point, it frequently no longer works as well as it used to in the past according to the developers. Now their ultimate goal is making BCG more effective and, at the same time, safer: They successfully tweaked the original vaccine to be better at activating the human immune system and thus afford more effective and safer protection against the TB pathogen.

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