The World Health Organization Initiative for Vaccine Research recently convened a panel of TB vaccine trial experts to examine the best way of testing immunity in blood taken from people vaccinated with a new TB vaccine.
"The panel recognised that many new and diverse tuberculosis vaccines are currently under development," says the lead author Professor Hanekom, of the South African TB Vaccine Initiative. "The ability to compare results of how the immune systems of people who received these vaccines have responded would be an important asset for TB vaccine research globally." Previously, it has been difficult to compare results because of differences in laboratory approaches, logistics and diverse populations being tested.
The panel evaluated advantages and disadvantages of many types of immune tests, and made specific recommendations for human trials of new vaccines, which included introducing a single and simple test that is used in all vaccine trials.
"The panel recommended the use of a test that had performed excellently, that could yield informative results, and that could be implemented in even the most remote of field sites," says Professor Hanekom. "It is anticipated that this single and simple test will speed up decision-making on which of the new TB vaccines currently being tested globally will proceed to phase three trials."
Phase three trials focus on testing whether the vaccines will work to protect people against TB. The single and simple test recommended by the panel would allow comparison of results on the human immune response to all new TB vaccines currently being tested by the many research initiatives globally. If implemented, this could shorten the process to find an effective vaccine against TB.
- Hanekom et al. Immunological Outcomes of New Tuberculosis Vaccine Trials: WHO Panel Recommendations. PLoS Medicine, 2008; 5 (7): e145 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0050145
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