There are nearly ten million new cases and 1.4 million deaths from tuberculosis (TB) each year, and the 90-year old bacille calmette-guérin (BCG) vaccine in widespread use appears to have minimal impact on the worldwide incidence, despite demonstrating reasonable efficacy against complications of infant TB and death. Novel vaccine development has accelerated in the past ten years, with at least 16 candidates entering human trials, and a few vaccines have entered into Phase 2b efficacy studies. However, different vaccines may be needed due to the varying disease states (naïve, latently infected, or active), the ages affected (infants, adolescents and young adults, the elderly), and patient health status (HIV and immunocompromised patients especially). Modeling has shown that mass vaccination of latently infected populations, especially adolescents and young adults, will likely have the largest impact on new infection rates. At present, research and development of TB vaccines is hampered by the lack of validated animal models, the absence of correlates of immunity and a human challenge model, as well as by the size and cost of Proof-of-Concept clinical trials. Nonetheless, ongoing research and clinical studies should remove many of these barriers over the next five years, and lead to an increased understanding of the pathogenicity of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and what may constitute protective immunity during various stages of infection and disease.
Evans, T.G.; Brennan, M.J.; Barker, L.; Thole, J. Preventive vaccines for tuberculosis. Vaccine (2013) 31: B223-B226. [DOI: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2012.11.081]