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International Symposium: New tuberculosis vaccines for the future

Life and Earth Sciences | Madrid, October 17-18, 2011


Tuberculosis (TB) is a leading cause of death in the world today. The causative agent of TB, Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB), is one of the oldest and world's most devastating human pathogens. A staggering two billion people are latently infected with the bacterium, and according to the WHO, it causes 9.8 million new cases and approximately 1.8 million deaths each year worldwide. The TB pandemic is being driven by the additional complications of the emergence of multidrug-resistant (MDR) and extremely drug resistant (XDR) MTB strains, which are virtually untreatable and the increased mobility of the world's population intensifies the spread of these strains to the industrialized world. Elimination of TB by 2050 is the ultimate goal for Stop TB Partnership. To achieve this goal, faster diagnostics, better drugs and more effective, safe vaccines are urgently needed. Finding new vaccines is particularly important as studies show that without new vaccines TB can never be eliminated. Vaccines will also be especially crucial in combating MDR- and XDR-TB.

No elimination without new vaccines
Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG), currently the only available TB vaccine, is widely used and effective in preventing severe forms of TB in children. However, BCG has little to no efficacy in preventing pulmonary TB, the most common and most infectious form of the disease among adults and adolescents worldwide. BCG is also contraindicated for use in immunocompromised patients and newborns with HIV. The world needs new vaccines to replace or improve BCG. These vaccines should also prevent TB in people with latent TB infection (which is not contagious but can still develop into TB later in life) and be safe in people living with HIV.

M. tuberculosis and the host
MTB has evolved complex strategies for intracellular survival and dynamic host-pathogen interplay. Approximately 30% of MTB genome is devoted to lipid biosynthesis or metabolism, which seems to be a useful pre-adaptation to a parasitic existence. Host genetics is important for mycobacterial infectious diseases and in addition population genomics of MTB evolve in order to escape the immune response of the host.

Worldwide efforts are needed
Worldwide, many universities, research institutes and companies work on the development of new vaccines to combat TB. In the past 10 years, particularly European researchers have made tremendous progress in the development of these urgently needed vaccines. Around 40 vaccine candidates are in several stages of development, from basic research to clinical trials.

Objectives: This International Symposium will join scientists and researchers, world leaders in the field of investigation of host-pathogen interactions and new vaccines against TB, to present to the scientific community their efforts and the results of the latest research in vaccines against TB. 

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