CAPE TOWN - 25 March 2013 - At a time of growing global concern about the rising level of drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis in South Africa and worldwide, the world's top TB vaccine experts are meeting this week, the first time this scientific forum has been held in Africa, where they will present new research aimed at advancing development of vaccines against the deadly airborne disease.
In coming to Cape Town, the international TB research community recognizes the role of South Africa as a nation with a high-burden of disease, but also as a leader among emerging market nations in innovation and scientific research in the global battle against TB.
Among the new findings being presented at the conference are the results of modeling study by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine that suggest new efficacious TB vaccines for adolescent and adults could alleviate up to 67 million (50-83) cases and 8 million (5-12) deaths by 2050 in the 22 high-burden countries and is cost effective.
Further research results show that within the remit of vaccine research the medium term needs of countries such as South Africa are likely to be best served by developing and testing vaccines that would be effective in adolescents and adults. New TB vaccines are essential if high TB burden countries are to meet the 2050 TB elimination goal.
South African Minister of Health Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi, who will open the international conference, has set a path for South Africa that includes ambitious targets to reduce tuberculosis in his nation, where TB incidence has increased by 400% over the past 15 years.
"We must be innovative in our approach to TB treatment and diagnosis, which is why I have made deployment of a faster new diagnostic tool a priority for the nation. New, more effective vaccines must also be part of the solution and I am committed to supporting their development led by the world's leading researchers, many based right here in South Africa," said Minister of Health, Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi.
The economic burden of TB weighs heavily on entire nations where the disease is endemic; in parts of Africa it exacts its greatest toll on individuals during their most productive years, from 15-44 years of age.
"In the Worcester areas, where our field research is conducted, we meet families who are eager to participate in the search for new TB vaccines, because they live with the consequences of TB every day," said Prof. Willem Hanekom, Director of the South African Tuberculosis Initiative (SATVI) of the University of Cape Town, the host of the Third Global Forum on TB Vaccines. "Their commitment to the search for TB vaccines is a testament of the terrible impact of TB on our community. At SATVI, we are proud to be applying the absolute best that science has to offer to develop and deliver new TB vaccines for South Africa and for the rest of the world."
The Third Global Forum on TB Vaccines is convened under the auspices of the Stop TB Partnership, an initiative of the World Health Organization and brings more than 250 scientists, researchers and TB advocates from all over the world on the heels of World TB Day. The World Health Organization and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria last week called for global action to fill a US $1.4 billion annul gap for TB research and development, "including clinical trials for new TB drugs, diagnostics and vaccines."
"TB elimination can only be possible with intensified research and development particularly for new vaccines," said Dr. Mario Raviglione, the Director of the WHO's Stop TB Department. "This area has a major funding gap and we need a wake-up call to investors to accelerate research efforts to make a potent TB vaccine a reality."
The conference will be held one year after the launch of a new global framework for TB vaccine development. It will provide a rich setting to strengthen collaboration and review progress in several areas including basic research, immunology, and clinical research in TB vaccine R&D.
About the Third Global Forum on TB Vaccines
The Third Global Forum on TB Vaccines brings together researchers, policymakers, donors, civil society and other stakeholders interested in the development of new TB vaccines that will contribute to global efforts to eliminate TB. The main goals of the Forum are to: review progress in the field, with a particular focus on the key issues and challenges outlined in the Blueprint for TB Vaccine Development, and discuss strategies to continue to advance and sustain the field; share the latest data and findings on key issues in TB vaccine research; and promote partnerships and collaboration amongst multiple stakeholders across sectors to accelerate and streamline TB vaccine research.
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SATVI - Alison September
TuBerculosis Vaccine Initiative (TBVI) - Erna Balk
Aeras - Jamie Rosen
Aeras is a nonprofit biotech advancing the tuberculosis vaccines for the world. In collaboration with global partners in Africa, Asia, North America and Europe, Aeras is supporting the clinical testing of six experimental vaccines as well as a robust portfolio of earlier stage candidates. Aeras receives funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the UK Department for International Development, and the Netherlands' Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a range of other governments. Aeras is based in Rockville, Maryland; Cape Town, South Africa; and Beijing, China. http://www.
Established in 2001, the University of Cape Town's South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative (SATVI) is the largest dedicated TB vaccine research group on the African continent. It is located within the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine of the University of Cape Town. Its mission is to conduct innovative, high-quality TB vaccine research In Africa and impact the global epidemic. A new, effective, affordable vaccine has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of lives worldwide. SATVI is conducting registration standard clinical trials of several novel TB vaccine candidates. It is also engaging in projects to address critical clinical, epidemiological, immunological and human genetic questions in TB vaccine development. http://www.
TuBerculosis Vaccine Initiative (TBVI) is an independent non-profit foundation that facilitates the development of safe, more effective vaccines to protect future generations against tuberculosis. Since its formation in 2008, TBVI has brought together an integrated network of over 50 mainly European universities, institutes and the private sector in the development of new vaccines that are globally accessible and affordable. http://www.