Friday 6 January 2023

Could a 100-year-old TB vaccine help scientists find a better one?


Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) is a vaccine made of living bacteria to prevent tuberculosis (TB) and the most widely used vaccine on the planet. Led by Dr. Jim Kublin, researchers at Fred Hutch have begun a new 10-person challenge trial that will study how immune systems respond to BCG and to isoniazid, a drug used to treat TB.  


BCG is a 100-year-old vaccine that is still given in the developing world to protect millions of children from tuberculosis. It happens to be the most widely used vaccine on the planet, with more than 4 billion doses delivered. Yet BCG is an imperfect vaccine that wanes in effectiveness as children age into adolescence. For that reason, and because TB is not a major public health problem in the U.S., it is seldom offered in this country.


 Development of more effective TB drugs and vaccines is a pressing, unmet medical need, underscored by World Health Organization data. In 2021, tuberculosis caused 1.6 million deaths around the globe, making it the second leading cause of death each year from an infectious disease, only recently surpassed by COVID-19.


A new study seeks to find out whether BCG — made of live but hobbled cousins of the TB germs that afflict humans — might safely work as a stand-in for real tuberculosis germs in future clinical trials to assess new drugs and better vaccines to stop the disease.






Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology Resources (

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