TB could kill 75 million people by 2050; Improved treatment methods and vaccines need of the hour


 Alongside HIV, Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the leading causes of death in the planet. Nearly, 9 million people and 1 million children suffer from TB according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In the last decade, the advancement in prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of TB has brought the mortality rate down, by 47%. Every year, TB Kills nearly 1 million people in the world. One in three HIV deaths is related to TB.

The World Health Organization recommends BCG vaccines to infants and young children to combat the bacterial infection; however, if administered to children with HIV, there is a significant risk of developing a vaccine-related disease. Therefore, children known to be HIV infected should not be vaccinated with BCG. By 2035, WHO aims to eradicate almost 90% of all TB cases and this requires the introduction of new, more effective tools to prevent, diagnose, and treat TB. One of the tools used to detect the presence of a substance, usually an antigen, in a liquid sample or wet sample and prevent the spread of the viruses is by using ELISA kits.

Currently, vaccines are developed to replace BCG and the aim is to confer more immunity for a longer period of time. In the infected population, immunity conferred by BCG wanes and the developers aim to bring out a booster vaccine that could be used again to boost immunity.

Sixteen vaccine candidates are under clinical trials across the world and a handful of them are approaching proof of concept stage. In addition, an immunotherapeutic vaccine is being developed for individuals with active TB; in these cases, the time-span of treatment is expected to be brought down significantly by the use of a vaccine in addition to TB drug therapy. The major roadblock for TB vaccine development has been the lack of an immunological correlate of protection and often protection in preclinical challenge models does not reflect field efficacy data.

There are the new set of problems that needs to fought during commercialization efforts; for example, The drug used in treating TB patients, Cycloserine was acquired by Rodelis Therapeutics in September 2015 and the company raised the price to $10,800 for 30 capsules, from $500. However due to political pressure, the company returned to the drug to the former owner, a nonprofit organization affiliated with Purdue University. A similar effort was also brought down due to public pressure in the case of Daraprim.

Also, large pharmaceutical firms are not keen on developing treatment or vaccines for TB as the people who develop TB, in general, are poor. As an airborne disease, the infectious bacteria could float in the air for hours and TB spreads through the tiny droplets of saliva and mucous that is expelled by infected people. To add more into the issues, the treatment cost is also upward of $100,000 in U.S. With deaths projected as high as 75 million, it is important for the policy makers and pharmaceutical major to find a solution to break this jinx.


Author Bio: Maggie Martin is completing her PhD in Cell Biology, works as a lab tech for Mybiosource.com and contributes content on Biotech, Life Sciences, and Viral Outbreaks. Follow on Twitter @MaggieBiosource