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Altered TB vaccine could fight other diseases, researches say

Researchers have transformed tuberculosis vaccine into a multidisease vaccine that triggered defenses against AIDS and tetanus in mice. The achievement marks an important step toward the development of a vaccine that could protect humans against a grab bag of a dozen or more diseases, the researchers said in a study published today in the journal Nature.

Modification of the TB vaccine might allow the development of new vaccines for such disease as AIDS, Lyme disease and certain bacterial infections and forms of cancer, said one of the studies' authors, Barry R. Bloom.

The first human trials of a modified TB vaccine are at least two years away, Bloom said.

Among the other diseases that might be prevented with the vaccines are hepatitis, diphtheria and malaria and other parasitic diseases, he said.

The studies with mice demonstrated that the genetically engineered TB vaccines could produce immune responses to other diseases. But the researchers have not yet shown that the vaccine protected the animals against subsequent infection.