ST. LOUIS ⎯ Scientists at Saint Louis University's Center for Vaccine Development will conduct a clinical trial of an investigational vaccine for tuberculosis, the world's second deadliest infectious disease.
The vaccine, which is called AERAS-422, is a modernized version of the current Bacille Calmette Guérin (BCG) TB vaccine. Developed nearly 90 years ago, the BCG vaccine is not considered very effective in preventing pulmonary TB in adolescents and adults, which now is the population with the highest rates of TB.
|Daniel Hoft, M.D., Ph.D.|
With an estimated 1.8 million deaths and nearly 9.3 million new cases of tuberculosis diagnosed in 2007, finding a safe and effective vaccine is a global priority, said Daniel Hoft, M.D., Ph.D., a researcher at SLU's Center for Vaccine Development and director of infectious diseases, allergy and immunology at Saint Louis University.
"The TB vaccine field has made tremendous progress over the past 10 years," Hoft said. "Not only is the start of the clinical trial of AERAS-422 another important benchmark in the search for more effective TB vaccines, it is also an opportunity to learn more about cellular immunity, which is less understood but crucially important in developing TB vaccines."
The live recombinant investigational vaccine that SLU will study is designed to interrupt TB at all stages of infection and protect against all forms of TB. The research is funded by Aeras Global TB Vaccine Foundation, a non-profit research organization supported primarily by private foundations and government aid agencies. Saint Louis University is the only institution conducting the Phase 1 clinical trial.
As part of its TB vaccine research, Saint Louis University will be part of a collaborative consortium put together by Aeras that is studying new biomarker assays that better assess TB vaccine-induced immunity. Those assays would be used in the clinical trial of AERAS-422 at SLU.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced a grant to Aeras to develop these biomarkers, which are functional and biological immune responses that correlate with vaccine efficacy. Hoft will serve as co-investigator on this FDA grant, conducting both clinical studies of new TB vaccines and basic immune research in his laboratory with the goal of identifying vaccine responses capable of inhibiting growth of the TB germ.
The biomarkers would standardize and streamline clinical studies of vaccines from different research institutions, in different locations and within different age groups and populations. Biomarkers potentially would shorten timeframes for introducing new TB vaccines by standardizing research.
Other institutions collaborating on the initiative are Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford; South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative at the University of Cape Town; and Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University.
Established in 1836, Saint Louis University School of Medicine has the distinction of awarding the first medical degree west of the Mississippi River. The school educates physicians and biomedical scientists, conducts medical research, and provides health care on a local, national and international level. Research at the school seeks new cures and treatments in five key areas: cancer, infectious disease, liver disease, aging and brain disease and heart/lung disease.
To learn more about the vaccine research being conducted at Saint Louis University, call (314) 977-6333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.