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A new vaccine against tuberculosis affords greater survival after challenge than the current vaccine in the guinea pig model of pulmonary tuberculosis


Tuberculosis (TB) remains an enormous global health problem, and a new vaccine against TB more potent than the current inadequate vaccine, Mycobacterium bovis BCG, is urgently needed. We describe a recombinant BCG vaccine (rBCG30) expressing and secreting the 30-kDa major secretory protein of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the primary causative agent of TB, that affords greater survival after challenge than parental BCG in the highly demanding guinea pig model of pulmonary TB. Animals immunized with rBCG30 and then challenged by aerosol with a highly virulent strain of M. tuberculosis survived significantly longer than animals immunized with conventional BCG. The parental and recombinant vaccine strains are comparably avirulent in guinea pigs, as they display a similar pattern of growth and clearance in the lung, spleen, and regional lymph nodes. The pMTB30 plasmid encoding the 30-kDa protein is neither self-transmissible nor mobilizable to other bacteria, including mycobacteria. The pMTB30 plasmid can be stably maintained in Escherichia coli but is expressed only in mycobacteria. The recombinant and parental strains are sensitive to the same antimyco-bacterial antibiotics. rBCG30, the first vaccine against TB more potent than nearly century-old BCG, is being readied for human clinical trials.

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