Johnson T A
Scientists at Max Planck Institute of Infection Biology,Germany,are trying to develop a tuberculosis vaccine for adu-lts which will be the first in nearly hundred years since the Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine for children was developed. Lending a helping hand in this is a clinical lab at St Johns Research Institute (SJRI) in Bangalore.
The SJRI has been commissioned to come up with biomarkers to test the efficacy of the new vaccine,which is set to go into phase three trials.
The vaccine being developed by Max director Stefan H E Kaufmann is considered the most promising among a clutch of other candidates that have appeared following a renewed interest on account of the emergence of drug-resistant varieties of the disease.
Kaufmann,who was in Bangalore last week,has tied up with John Kenneth,head of the infectious disease unit and molecular diagnostics at SJRI,to locate biomarkers that will establish the efficacy of any tuberculosis vaccine administered to patients.
All current vaccine candidates are relatively low on ambition. They all attempt to contain mycobacterium tuberculosis. We do not have a candidate that claims to prevent infection or eradicates the pathogens, Kaufmann said.
Max has created a vaccine against adult TB of the lungs by working with a recombinant version of the BCG vaccine that prevents TB in children.
The vaccine had been sub-licensed to Serum Research Institute of India that wants to test it,Kaufmann said.
When you put the vaccine candidate into the trial cycle you need an end point measure of the efficacy of the vaccine to indicate that antibodies have been produced to provide immunity. We dont have that marker at present, Kenneth of SJRI said. The presence of a biological databank and a TB patients to carry out tests for biomarkers is key to the tie-up between Max and SJRI.
Biomarkers are critical factors for the future research on TB. They are critical factors for better vaccines,better drug design and better diagnosis, Kaufmann said. One of the questions that the researchers are trying to answer in the quest for biomarkers for TB is,what distinguishes patients with active TB and those who remain healthy.