50th Union World Conference on Lung Health: NIH announces $30 million for research to spur TB vaccine development

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Science Speaks is covering the 50th Union World Conference on Lung Health in Hyderabad, India.

HYDERABAD, INDIA –  The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases will dedicate $30 million in new funding to accelerate development of new vaccines against tuberculosis.

The announcement of the funding, which will be used to establish centers of immunology research at U.S. institutions, came during the same session researchers announced that for the first time a tuberculosis vaccine candidate has shown effectiveness in protecting adults infected with tuberculosis from developing active TB disease.

Research at the new centers will seek to better understand the immune responses needed to protect against tuberculosis infection, which is critical for guiding the design and development of new and improved TB vaccines, Dr. Peter Kim of NIAID said.

The centers, which will be called Immune Mechanisms of Protection Against Mycobacterium tuberculosis, or IMPAc-TB Centers, will aim to develop a comprehensive understanding of immune responses required to prevent initial infection with the TB bacteria, establishment of latent infection and progression to active TB disease, NIH officials said.

Research teams at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the Infectious Disease Research Institute in Seattle, and the Seattle Children’s Hospital will also analyze immune responses elicited by promising vaccine candidates, including the M72 vaccine developed by IAVI and GlaxoSmithKline. The centers will examine the effects of co-infections including HIV on immune responses to TB infection, as well.

“This research will help us to better inform the investments we need to make in vaccine research and be more efficient and effective in our funding,” Kim said.

“Everyone involved in TB vaccine research can use the knowledge that comes out of this program to help advance vaccine candidates faster,” he said, adding that the program aims to partner with networks of TB activists along with scientists, as “TB research is much more than individual scientists working in labs.”

NIAID’s $30 million investment will be used in the first year of the program and the agency plans to continue funding the initiative for seven years, Kim said.

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