Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Delivered with Impact

TB vaccine is more effective delivered into the bloodstream than the usual way into the skin or muscle

17 January 2020

Delivered with Impact

Tuberculosis, caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), is the world’s deadliest infectious disease, responsible for an estimated 1.7 million deaths annually. A vaccine known as BCG provides protection from tuberculosis in infants but is not always successful, particularly in older children and adults, leaving many still vulnerable. To improve the vaccination process, researchers working with rhesus macaques experimented with different doses and methods of administering BCG. While vaccination typically involves a jab through the skin, they found that providing BCG intravenously, straight into the bloodstream, yielded better results. Monkeys vaccinated in this way experienced a greater immune response and fared better when later challenged with Mtb: many displayed no symptoms, and scans of their lungs (pictured, bottom row) revealed much less inflammation (in red) than in subjects vaccinated as usual (top row). Despite some logistical challenges, intravenous delivery could be part of more effective vaccination strategies in the future.

Written by Emmanuelle Briolat

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