JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - Researchers on Tuesday unveiled a blueprint to guide the next steps in the hunt for a more effective vaccine against tuberculosis as the world’s most advanced clinical trial nears its end.
The plan is part of a global push aimed at giving TB research the same high profile — and funding — that goes to diseases like AIDS.
“A blueprint has been developed, essentially a document on research plans for the next five to 10 years,” said Hassan Mahomed, who heads clinical trials for the South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative.
The fresh impetus to the research comes as scientists await the release in early 2013 of results from the world’s most advanced TB vaccine trial — one of 12 currently underway.
“That’s quite an exciting development, because for the first time we will know if any of these new vaccines will have positive developments for preventing TB,” Mahomed said.
Even if that vaccine proves unsuccessful, scientists are eagerly watching the results for critical insights into how to develop other vaccines.
The new blueprint sets international guidelines on how to compare the efficacy of TB vaccines, and looks forward to the next phases in development, when any viable vaccine would need to be licensed and distributed.

Published in The Nation newspaper on 23-Mar-2012