GlaxoSmithKline has teamed up with not-for-profit organisation Aeras to develop an investigational tuberculosis vaccine.
The agreement comes after promising results from early-stage trials showed that the vaccine, which contains GSK's M72 antigen and AS01E adjuvant (including components licensed from Antigenics) has an acceptable safety and reactogenicity profile and demonstrated an immune response. Aeras and GSK will each provide resources to run a Phase IIb trial scheduled to begin in Kenya, India and South Africa next year.
Aeras chief executive Jim Connolly noted that "we will never reverse the spread of the global TB epidemic without new vaccines as part of the solution". He added that "global financing for R&D remains critically low in this area," saying that the partnership with GSK is "getting us that much closer to potentially one day having a TB vaccine that could protect adolescents and adults from one of the world's deadliest infectious diseases".
Aeras, which receives funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other private institutions and governments, notes that TB continues to kill 1.4 million people annually, despite the widespread use of the currently available vaccine, Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) in endemic countries. BCG prevents some forms of TB in infants but does not prevent pulmonary TB, which accounts for the majority of infections and deaths among adolescents and adults.
The GSK vaccine candidate is being designed to be used in addition to BCG, the partners concluded.