Two SA universities unveil astounding results of pre-clinical trials for TB vaccine

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The North West and Walter Sisulu universities hope to take a significant step foward in the unrelenting battle against tuberculosis. They unveiled the astounding results of their pre-clinical trials for a groundbreaking combination DNA vaccine against TB and Covid-19.

The animal model trials were completed a month ago, with results showing a positive outcome.
There has not been a TB vaccine on the SA pharmaceutical market since the BCG vaccine, which is given to babies after birth.

While BCG is a weakened strain of TB, this new vaccine is DNA-based, generating antibody responses against TB.
Approval of this vaccine would mean those who have TB would no longer need six months of treatment

The World Health Organization (WHO) says about 300 000 people were diagnosed in South Africa with TB in 2021 and about 56 000 died from the disease.

Professor Markus Depfenhart says they achieved 100% protection outcome in animal trials for a DNA vaccine against TB, that does not need cold storage.

“We are at the break even stage. We use different animal models for example, we use the different mouse model and just recently activity studies that means the infection studies where we look how the vaccine works and check the animal that has been infected with tuberculosis, how is the protection of the vaccine. This is what we just finished.”

One of the standout features of this vaccine, is that when confronted with a real infection, the immune system can respond more swiftly and effectively. This novel approach, developed by Professor Depfenhart, may well explain the vaccine’s notable efficacy against TB.

“The idea behind it is also to not have just a preventative vaccine that means to prevent people to get the disease or to get infected. Now the idea is also to do a therapeutic vaccine of course. We have not been able to show that yet and we are investigating that as well that and from what we found on animal trials we are very confident that we also might work as a therapeutic vaccine; that would mean if someone is infected already with MTB or even from MTB then this person would have a chance to be cured by such vaccine.”

This vaccine, if approved for the pharmaceutical market, will prove to be groundbreaking.

Professor Anne Grobler a pharmaceutical expert and project manager explains:

“BCG has been available over 100 years no other TB vaccine exists period nothing is on the market. In South Africa we use BCG to vaccinate babies and furthermore no DNA vaccine has ever been approved in South Africa as far as I know. So not only is that we don’t have any new TB Vaccine we also don’t have DNA vaccine and there is also limited information on the combination bacterial and the virus vaccine as we have done in this case. And here we have a TB Vaccine combined with a SARS-CoV-2. A virus and bacteria.”

The two universities are currently compiling a preclinical module for the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA). They will then decide if there is sufficient evidence to continue to human clinical trials.

TB Epidemic | New TB vaccines are needed: Willem Hanekom: