Oregon scientist develops promising vaccine against tuberculosis

An Oregon scientist has developed a vaccine against tuberculosis that appears to be highly effective against the devastating disease.

The vaccine reduced tuberculosis infections by 70 percent in rhesus monkeys, according to a paper published Monday in the journal Nature Medicine.

Tuberculosis doesn’t always make people sick, but it almost always causes severe disease in rhesus monkeys, said Dr. Louis Picker, who developed the vaccine at Oregon Health & Science University.

Though the vaccine has only been given to rhesus macaques, it will eventually be tested in people, Picker said.

His findings offer hope for a disease that sickened more than 10 million people across the globe in 2016, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Every year, about 2 million die from TB, which affects the lungs but also can attack the kidneys, spine or brain.

“TB is actually the biggest infectious killer now – it’s surpassed HIV,” Picker said. “It’s amazing to me that we haven’t seen more of it in this country.”

A century ago, TB was a leading cause of death in the United States and Europe. Antibiotics and cleaner living conditions helped stem cases. In 2016, more than 9,000 people were infected with TB in the United States in 2016, the CDC said. The year before, the latest data available, nearly 500 died nationwide. Read the rest of the story at the OregonLive.

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