Fighting tuberculosis is focus of new FP6 project

February 16, 2004

Brussels, 13 Feb 2004

A new pan-European project to find a new vaccine to one of the biggest killers in the world, tuberculosis (TB) is to be supported by the European Commission.

Two million people die each year of TB, and with antibiotic resistance to the disease increasing, it is fast becoming a global public health threat.

The project is being established with almost half a million euro of Community funding under the 'life sciences, genomics and biotechnology for health' priority of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), and will run for five years.

With the number of tuberculosis cases around the world increasing by two per cent every year, TB has been identified as a priority among infectious diseases. Although it is most prevalent in developing countries, cases of TB are found in every country 'with incidences varying from 7 in 100,000 in Scandinavia to 300 in 100,000 in parts of Africa,' explained Dr Yvonne Perrie, a researcher on the project. 'In Eastern Europe the incidence has risen above 100 in 100,000 with a high incidence of multi-drug resistant strains.'

Countries with good public health systems can fight TB efficiently with chemotherapy, but for other countries, vaccination is the only option.

The TB vaccination group will work on 'discovering and developing new delivery methods for drugs and adjuvants (a substance added to a vaccine to improve the immune response in the body, so that less vaccine is needed),' said Dr Perry. 'In this research, the vaccine might still be delivered via an injection but we plan to develop a synthetic carrier system for the vaccine to improve its efficiency'.

An initial aim is to develop a more efficient vaccine to enter Phase I trials within 18 months.

For further information on the FP6 thematic priority 'life sciences, genomics and biotechnology for health', please visit: http://www.cordis.lu/lifescihealth/home. html

CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities

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