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Med Hypotheses. 1999 Jul;53(1):32-9.

Tuberculosis II: the failure of the BCG vaccine.

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Department of Research, Anda Biologicals, Strasbourg, France.


BCG (bacille Calmette-Guerin) is an attenuated pathogen characterized by its capacity to induce cellular and humoral immune responses primarily against a nonpeptidic antigen, lipoarabinomannan. Immune responses against this substance contribute to the immunoprotection of the patient if the production of IL-2 and INF-gamma is not impaired. The most adequate production of INF-gamma and IL-2 is obtained by immunoreactivity against proteinic antigens. The formation of IgG-type antibodies and of cellular immunity against mycobacterial peptidic and proteinic antigens is an additional immunological response essential for a good protection. This is achieved by the BCG vaccine in only a small proportion of the vaccinees. A vaccine adjuvant that also finds application as an immunotherapeutic agent is composed of proteinic antigens such as sonicates of Mycobacterium vaccae and antigen 60 of Mycobacterium bovis. These enhance the beneficial Th1-pole of the immune response. In addition, A60 induces the formation of antibodies against species-specific proteinic antigens. Despite the questioning of its innocuousness and efficacy, the BCG vaccine was imposed worldwide in 1950 by medical and political organizations that showed no concern for these questions. The contemporary structures of research administration in this area make it unlikely that the efficacious means recently developed to complement the action of the vaccine and of chemotherapies to face the surge of tuberculosis (TB) will be readily adopted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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