New TB Vaccine For Adults In The Works

The existing vaccine for tuberculosis (TB) only works for very young children. This makes it difficult for public health officials and healthcare providers to combat the infection in older people. 

But a new study conducted in Africa found a vaccine that could prevent TB from spreading among adults. Researchers tested the approach in nearly 3,600 patients in Kenya, Zambia and South Africa.

The participants were divided into groups, with one receiving two doses of the TB vaccine every other month and another group that took dummy shots. Researchers then followed the participants for three years. 

By the end of the study, researchers said the vaccine was 50 percent effective at preventing latent TB infection from turning into active disease. In the vaccine group, only 13 people developed active TB, while 26 in the placebo group had the disease. 

The TB vaccine for adults, described in the New England Journal of Medicine, was developed by pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline in the United Kingdom. Researchers said tests showed "the vaccine is holding up" over time. 

The protection provided by the vaccine against TB also declined only a little after two years. Paula Fujiwara, scientific director of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, said the study helps scientists to move closer to a prevention tool that has been sought for 100 years, Fox Business reported Tuesday.

The World Health Organization (WHO) also recognized the new TB vaccine for adults as a major breakthrough. The organization recently held meetings to discuss its development.

TB And Its Effects In U.S.

The new vaccine that appears effective against latent TB infection may also work in many Americans. There are 13 million people living with such form of infection in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Untreated latent TB infection has been linked to more than 80 percent of TB cases across the country.

Although anyone can get TB, some people have a higher risk of being infected with TB germs, and should be tested for TB infection. 

People born in or who frequently travel to countries where TB disease is common, and people with weaker immune systems, taking certain medications, working in hospitals or living in homeless shelters and other usually crowded areas have high risk of developing the disease.

tuberculosis vaccine A new study conducted in Africa found a vaccine that could prevent TB from spreading among adults. Pixabay