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McMaster develops TB vaccine

(Update)
After ten years, McMaster University researchers say they’ve perfected a vaccine that will help save lives, specifically the lives of people with tuberculosis. Cindy Csordas has the details.

McMaster researchers have tested the vaccine on animals and on as many as 24 people. They say their tuberculosis vaccine is more effective than any other in the world.

These little vials at one of McMaster University’s labs contain some big news.

Professor Zhou Xing of McMaster’s Pathology and Molecular Medicine comments on the research: “What this vaccine is is a genetically modified code of virus, it’s pretty harmless and what it has in it is to activate the immune cells and it’s our belief these immune cells will fight against tuberculosis.”

McMaster researchers say one third of the world’s population is infected with the organism that causes Tuberculosis. It’s the second most infectious killer next to HIV.

Xing: “It could cause the destruction of your lung tissue, cause massive bleeding in your lungs so patients can die of these conditions.”

About one and a half million people around the world die from tuberculosis and Canada isn’t immune. In Canada, TB vaccines are mostly given to children in First Nations and Inuit communities where the risk of outbreaks is still high. Xing says their unique TB vaccine has gained the support of the World Health Organization.

Xing: “Some of our immune cells have been turned on by exposure to this vaccine. We went on to analyze how these immune cells behaved by which we could tell the vaccine actually worked!”

Professor Xing couldn’t tell me what the cost of the vaccine will be or when it can be used around the world. He says about six more phases have to be completed before batches of the vaccine can be produced and shipped to countries like South Africa where TB is rampant.



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