Developing tuberculosis vaccines - challenges and strategies 1

Published on June 30, 2015   25 min

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Hello. My name is Tom Evans. I am a physician and the chief executive officer of Aeras, a nonprofit biotechnology organization that is dedicated to developing tuberculosis vaccines for the developing world and all of the world. And I'd like to talk to you today about where we are with TB vaccines, noting that it's May of 2015. And this will be a fast-moving field.
To start with, Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the bacterial cause of this disease. It's important to realize that this bacterium has co-evolved with man sometime over the last 10,000 to 70,000 years. There is still some controversy. And it's very unique in that it is covered with these waxy mycolic acids and glycolipid structures that make it very different from some other bacteria. They give it a protective coating. And they are part of its pathogenesis.
Now, tuberculosis, why do a vaccine for tuberculosis? Tuberculosis has been mother nature's number one killer over the past two centuries. Over the past two centuries, a billion people, that was with a B, have died from tuberculosis. Last year, tuberculosis was tied with HIV as the leading cause of infectious disease death in the world. A person dies from tuberculosis every 21 seconds. There are 1.5 million deaths per year, somewhere between 9 and 10 million new cases per year. And this is an epidemic that continues unabated throughout the world.
Unlike some other diseases, although the incidence is highest in Sub-Saharan Africa, especially in the cone of Africa down into South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique area, the burden is highest in India, with the largest number of cases due to their population. The second highest number of cases is in China. And the third highest number of cases is in Indonesia. So the BRICS countries, as well as Sub-Saharan Africa, really bear most of the burden from TB.

Developing tuberculosis vaccines - challenges and strategies 1

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