As tuberculosis, the world’s most deadly infectious disease; causing greater than 10.4 million cases and 1.4 million deaths annually. Study, involving more than 1300 Indonesian people who live with a tuberculosis patient; finding the vaccine gave stronger protection and appearing to last for longer than previously thought.
The new research about an old vaccine one that has been in use for nearly 100 years has not only showing how effective it is but also suggesting it improving our immune response to a wider range of bacteria than originally intending.
The finding this protection was associating with stronger innate immune responses to a range of different bacteria; suggesting BCG protecting people by ‘training’ their innate immune cells. This is different from how vaccines are conventionally thought to work; through inducing memory cells to make antibodies that are highly specific to a particular bacteria.
Tuberculosis infectious disease
But some of the studies set out to understanding that why some people did not get tuberculosis infection even after being heavily exposing to it. Previous BCG vaccination, even decades prior, proved to be an important protective factor.
BCG is the world’s most widely administering vaccine yet scientists still are not certain how it works. The study finding; that BCG appears to work through the innate immune system is consistent with it having broader benefits than just tuberculosis protection. These non-specific effects are really interesting and need further study.
The study starting a new field study to see if BCG vaccination works by adding chemical marks to innate immune cells‘ DNA; leading to a “boost” for innate immune responses. The BCG vaccine is only partially effective; but by understanding how it works; we can develop more effective or safer vaccines that target the same mechanism.
A quarter of household TB case contacts were early clearers. Protection against M. tuberculosis infection was strongly associating with BCG vaccination. Lower protection from BCG with increasing M. tuberculosis exposure and age can inform vaccine development.