Vaccine trial results: We must work harder, invest more

Results from a new TB vaccine trial were published yesterday in the Lancet. Many news stories picked up on the "disappointing" nature of the results, as vaccine candidate MVA85A was found to be not effective in preventing TB disease in infants.

But ACTION applauds the completion of the first efficacy trial of a new tuberculosis (TB) vaccine in 90 years, and we look forward to how results can guide future development of TB vaccines.

The clinical trial of TB vaccine candidate MVA85A was a Phase IIb trial that tested the candidate’s safety and efficacy in 2,797 infants living in the Western Cape province of South Africa. Sponsored by Aeras, the trial was conducted by the University of Cape Town’s South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative (SATVI).

“Finding an improved TB vaccine is one of medical research’s most important missions,” said ACTION Director Kolleen Bouchane. “Ending TB has never been more urgent and we can’t stop now. We must redouble our efforts, using these results as a launching pad for further research and development.”

While MVA85A was not successful in protecting infants from TB, we do not need to start back at square one. The trial has provided important information about how the body’s immune system protects against the disease – knowledge that can quicken the selection of other vaccine candidates and clinical trials.

Developing vaccines is an incredibly difficult and long-term undertaking, and TB is starting late to the game. The scientific community, with the generous support of such funders as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has only become fully engaged in developing a TB vaccine within the last decade. Now the pipeline of TB vaccines  features more options than ever before; aside from MVA85A, 12 vaccine candidates are undergoing clinical trials worldwide.

But TB research and development faces an annual funding gap of $1.4 billion.We must remember that after the HIV virus was isolated, it took 12 years for an effective treatment to be developed. Research and development takes time and dedication, but with money well spent we can save millions of lives.

Read ACTION's official statement on the vaccine trial results
Check out the Lancet study
Aeras' Interim CEO,
 Tom Evans, MD, released a statement on the results