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Tuberculosis (Edinb). 2006 Jan;86(1):41-6. Epub 2005 Oct 25.

The search for a tuberculosis vaccine: an elusive quest?

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Department of Community Medicine, United Arab Emirates University, P.O. Box 17666 Al Ain, United Arab Emirates.


The precise mechanisms of protective immunity and pathogenesis of tuberculosis (TB) are poorly understood. Yet, many efforts are underway to develop new, more effective vaccines against Mycobacterium tuberculosis. This development appears to be predicated upon the assumption that natural acquired immunity to TB exists. In this paper we review the evidence for such immunity, explore the hypothesis that disease progression is due to some, often transient, immunological dysfunction, and discuss its relevance for vaccine development. Several mechanisms for such an immune dysfunction are proposed, including the recently suggested involvement of viral co-infections. Developing vaccines for such co-infections may be a new challenge for TB control.

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