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Immunol Cell Biol. 2000 Aug;78(4):342-8.

New tuberculosis vaccines based on attenuated strains of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex.

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AgResearch, Wallaceville Animal Research Centre, Upper Hutt, New Zealand.


The world urgently needs a better tuberculosis vaccine. Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG), an attenuated strain of Mycobacterium bovis, has been very widely used as a vaccine for many years but has had no major effect on reducing the incidence of tuberculosis. A number of alternative living and non-living vaccines are being investigated. Live vaccine candidates include genetically modified forms of BCG, genetically attenuated strains of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex and genetically engineered vaccinia virus and Salmonella strains. Non-living vaccine candidates include killed mycobacterial species, protein subunits and DNA vaccines. One requirement for acceptance of any new vaccine will be a favourable comparison of the protection it induces relative to BCG in a range of animal models, some of which may need further development. Molecular genetic techniques are now available that enable production of live attenuated strains of the M. tuberculosis complex with vaccine potential. In the first of two broadly different approaches that are being used, large numbers of mutants are produced by transposon mutagenesis or illegitimate recombination and are screened for properties that correlate with attenuation. In the second approach, putative genes that may be required for virulence are identified and subsequently inactivated by allelic exchange. In both approaches, mutants that are attenuated need to be identified and subsequently tested for their vaccine efficacy in animal models. Many mutants of the M. tuberculosis complex have now been produced and the vaccine properties of a substantial number will be assessed in the next 3 years.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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