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Year : 2003  |  Volume : 49  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 134-40

Tuberculosis: looking beyond BCG vaccines.

Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine, Kuwait University, Kuwait. , Kuwait

Correspondence Address:
S Mustafa Abu
Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine, Kuwait University, Kuwait.
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 12867689

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Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease of international importance and ranks among the top 10 causes of death in the World. About one-third of the world's population is infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Every year, approximately eight million people develop active disease and two million die of TB. The currently used BCG vaccines have shown variable protective efficacies against TB in different parts of the world. Moreover, being a live vaccine, BCG can be pathogenic in immunocompromised recipients. Therefore, there is an urgent need to develop new vaccines against TB. The comparative genome analysis has revealed the existence of several M. tuberculosis-specific regions that are deleted in BCG. The work carried out to determine the immunological reactivity of proteins encoded by genes located in these regions revealed several major antigens of M. tuberculosis, including the 6 kDa early secreted antigen target (ESAT6). Immunization with ESAT6 and its peptide (aa51-70) protects mice challenged with M. tuberculosis. The protective efficacy of immunization further improves when ESAT6 is recombinantly fused with M. tuberculosis antigen 85B. In addition, ESAT6 delivered as a DNA vaccine is also protective in mice. Whether these vaccines would be safe or not cannot be speculated. The answer regarding the safety and efficacy of these vaccines has to await human trials in different parts of the world.


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Online since 12th February '04
2004 - Journal of Postgraduate Medicine
Official Publication of the Staff Society of the Seth GS Medical College and KEM Hospital, Mumbai, India
Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow