University of Saskatchewan –
Towards a next generation of superior BCG tuberculosis vaccines
Tuberculosis is a serious global health problem, with one-third of the world’s population having been infected by the infectious agent, Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The only available tuberculosis vaccine, live M. bovis BCG vaccine, has an excellent record in protecting infants, but works poorly in adolescents and adults. Therefore, better tuberculosis vaccines are urgently required.
A BCG strain that has been genetically modified to produce the M. tuberculosis ESX-1 proteins that stimulate immunity offers better protection than unmodified BCG. However, this strain also produces lipid molecules that dampen host immune response. To address whether these lipids diminish the beneficial effects of ESX-1 proteins in the modified BCG, Dr Chen will compare immune responses to modified and unmodified BCG strains. The strain inducing the most robust immune response may be key to the development of superior tuberculosis vaccines.