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Tuberculosis (Edinb). 2003;83(1-3):119-30.

Use of the bovine model of tuberculosis for the development of improved vaccines and diagnostics.

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TB Research Group, Department of Bacterial Diseases, VLA Weybridge, Addlestone, Surrey KT15 3NB, UK.


Over the past few years there has been a resurgence in research into bovine tuberculosis due to the sharp rise of the disease in countries such as Great Britain and to the continuing problem of wild-life reservoirs in countries such as New Zealand. One of the goals of this research is to develop cattle vaccines against TB. The initial testing of candidate vaccines is carried out in laboratory animals, initially mice and subsequently guinea pigs. A unique feature of the cattle vaccination programme is that candidate vaccines which show promise in laboratory models can then be tested in the natural host species, cattle, before progressing to clinical trials. This is a major advantage over the strategy for developing a vaccine for human tuberculosis where, of course, it is impossible to test a candidate vaccine by experimentally challenging the host species with the pathogen. The most commonly used model for testing vaccine candidates in cattle consists of an intra-tracheal challenge of between 10(3) and 10(4) colony forming units of Mycobacterium bovis. The pathology observed following challenge is similar to human tuberculosis giving rise to a marked granulomatous reaction and a predominantly cellular immune response. Using this model we have been able to make a number of significant advances towards a bovine TB vaccine. First we have developed antigen cocktails that, when used in a whole blood gamma interferon assay, can differentiate between M. bovis infected and BCG vaccinated animals. Next we have developed immune correlates of pathology, which allow us to assess whether the vaccine is protecting animals against challenge before post mortem examination. Finally we have been able to use the model to develop a vaccine that improves the efficacy of BCG against M. bovis challenge.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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