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Bharat Biotech with Biofabri starts clinical trials of MTBVAC, the first vaccine against TB

Our Bureau, Bengaluru
Tuesday, April 2, 2024, 17:40 Hrs  [IST]

MTBVAC, the Spanish tuberculosis vaccine, with its first live attenuated vaccine of mycobacterium tuberculosis isolated from a human, reaches a new milestone by starting clinical trials in India, the most populated country in the world and the one with the highest number of cases of this infectious disease. The trials are carried out by Bharat Biotech in close collaboration with Biofabri.
Trials to evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of MTBVAC have started with a pivotal safety, immunogenicity and efficacy trial planned to start in 2025. After more than three decades of research, Esteban Rodriguez, CEO of Biofabri says: “It is a giant step to test in adults and adolescents in the country where 28% of the world’s TB cases accumulate and concludes that more effort and funding is needed to combat TB, which remains one of the world’s leading infectious causes of death, especially in India.”
The only vaccine in use today, BCG (Bacillus Calmette and Guérin), is an attenuated variant of the bovine TB pathogen. It is more than a hundred years old and has a very limited effect on pulmonary tuberculosis, which is responsible for the transmission of the disease, hence the need to make progress on this new vaccine, which will be a milestone in global vaccinology and is an example of public-private, national and international collaboration.
Dr Krishna Ella, executive chairman Bharat Biotech said, “Our quest for a more effective vaccine against Tuberculosis received a big boost today, with clinical trials in India. Our goal to develop TB vaccines to prevent disease in adults and adolescents has taken a big step today. We are honoured to partner with BioFabri, Dr. Esteban Rodriguez and Dr. Carlos Martin in this noble effort to reinvent TB vaccines.”
The MTBVAC vaccine has passed several milestones before entering clinical trials in India. The first is that after the recent completion of a phase 2 dose finding trial, a double-blind, controlled phase 3 clinical trial in newborns has started in 2023, comparing the vaccine with the current BCG vaccine. 7,000 newborns from South Africa, 60 from Madagascar and 60 from Senegal will be vaccinated. To date, more than 1,900 babies have been vaccinated.
The aim is to assess the immunogenicity and efficacy of MTBVAC which is administered intradermally to infants on the first day of life, he added.
Vaccination began at a time of setback in the global fight against TB. Health restrictions imposed during the Covid-19 pandemic led to an increase in infections and a decrease in diagnosis and treatment. As a result, annual TB deaths have risen to over 1.6 million.


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