"We cannot win the battle against AIDS if we do not also fight TB. TB is too often a death sentence for people with AIDS."
Nelson Mandela, July 2004
Petition SADC nations to prioritize TB R&D for new drugs, diagnostics and vaccines
Join us and Aeras in asking SADC nations to prioritize TB R&D for new drugs, diagnostics and vaccines in the Declaration on TB in the Mining Sector.
Applications for masters or doctoral students
We are inviting applications for masters or doctoral students to work on clinical immunology of tuberculosis projects.
For more information click here
TB vaccine research drama to premiere at Worcester high schools
A new drama based on a comic book, Carina’s Choice, developed by SATVI to inform the community of the Worcester region about TB vaccine clinical research in an entertaining and understandable way, will be performed at at least eight high schools in the Worcester area.
The idea evolved from a comic book, Carina’s Choice, which was developed in 2010 by Linda Rohda, then communications manager for SATVI, to inform the community of the Worcester region in which they conduct their work about TB vaccine clinical research in an entertaining and understandable way. Development of the comic was supported by a grant from the WHO Global Patnership to Stop TB, and received input from the Community Advisory Board, staff members and trial participants to ensure that the language used was acceptable and understandable and that the scientific facts were correct. A local school, Worcester Senior Secondary, dramatised the comic and performed it once to a small audience with very positive feedback.
Dr Michele Tameris of SATVI received an International Engagement grant from Wellcome Trust to evaluate the use of drama to improve adolescents’ insight into tuberculosis (TB) and TB vaccine development, clinical research and their rights and responsibilities as a trial participant, by building on these projects’ success and rolling out a refined version of the production to the high schools in the Worcester area .
Since May 2013 Dr Veronica Baxter and senior students from UCT Drama School have spent weekends, public holidays and their vacation time in Worcester enthusiastically working with Mrs Natasha Africa of Worcester Senior Secondary (WSS) and a group of her drama learners. The UCT students, with much input from the increasingly motivated and inspired group of learners, have developed the script, composed songs and raps, designed costumes and sets and worked with the young performers to improve their acting skills and knowledge.
Carina’s Choice will be performed at at least eight high schools in the Worcester area, reaching a possible 10 000 adolescents in the third quarter of 2013. The effectiveness of drama as a tool will be evaluated by using a pre- and post-intervention knowledge survey completed by all learners attending the performances. This evaluation will be led by an experienced social scientist, Amber Abrams.
SATVI investigators awarded new grant to explore how our bodies fight TB
The South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative (SATVI) of the University of Cape Town (UCT) is pleased to announce a new research grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The research project, the third SATVI study to be funded by the Gates Foundation, aims to gain new knowledge about how humans protect themselves against tuberculosis (TB).
TB is an infectious lung disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. About half a million new cases of TB disease occur in South Africa every year. World wide, 1.4 million people die from TB each year. We need new vaccines to prevent people from getting the disease, better tools to identify those who have TB and new drugs to treat those who are sick. Progress toward these interventions requires research to understand how our bodies fight TB. This is the goal of this newly funded project.
Dr Thomas Scriba, Deputy Director of Immunology at SATVI, will lead the project, which is a collaborative effort between SATVI at the University of Cape Town, and investigators at Benaroya Research Institute, La Jolla Institute of Allergy and Immunology, New York University, Seattle Biomedical Research Institute and Stanford University.
Dr Scriba commented, "We are thrilled to be awarded this grant. We have assembled an outstanding team of people to address a very significant question using cutting-edge and the most modern scientific approaches."
Valued at ZAR 33.2 million ($3.7 million), the project aims to discover which components of the TB bacterium are targeted by our body's T cells, which are responsible for orchestrating the many different cells of our immune system to effectively fight against infections. This information about the human immune response will inform how we design better vaccines against TB in the future.
This project complements and builds on two others – led by Prof. Willem Hanekom, Director of SATVI – aimed at identifying ways to predict who may develop TB. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has already contributed more than ZAR90 million ($10.7 million) toward funding of these projects. "This important study provides a unique and exciting opportunity to gain a better understanding of how we protect ourselves against TB," said Prof Hanekom.
Results from Historic Phase IIb Clinical Trial for TB Vaccine Candidate MVA85A, performed at SATVI, Published in The Lancet
Results from a Phase IIb clinical trial, which was competed at the SATVI Clinical Field Site, were published in The Lancet on 4 February 2013. The trial evaluated the safety and efficacy of MVA85A in preventing tuberculosis (TB) in infants. MVA85A is a TB vaccine candidate designed to boost immune responses already primed by the Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine, the currently licensed and widely used TB vaccine. The results show that:
- MVA85A was generally well tolerated, meeting the study’s primary objective of safety
- MVA85A did not provide statistically-significant protection in preventing TB disease in infants previously vaccinated with BCG
Data show that a single dose of MVA85A is not sufficient to confer statistically significant protection against TB disease or infection in infants who had been vaccinated at birth with BCG. There were 32 cases of TB disease in the infants that received BCG + MVA85A compared with 39 cases of disease among those receiving BCG + placebo. Non-significant vaccine efficacy was measured at 17.3% (95% CI -31.9% to 48.2%) at study completion. The vaccine candidate also did not provide statistically significant protection from infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes TB, which was a secondary efficacy endpoint.
To read more, click here.
To read the abstract of the paper, click here.
To read a commentary in The Lancet about the study, click here.
Longitudinal Changes in CD4 T Cell Memory Responses Induced by BCG Vaccination of Newborns
New findings from SATVI researchers, published online in The Journal of Infectious Diseases, provide a detailed account of the immune response induced by BCG vaccination of newborn babies. The BCG vaccine, which was developed roughly a century ago, is the most commonly given vaccine globally. However, until now, it was not known how the T cell response to BCG develops during the first year of life.
The results show that the BCG-induced T cell response peaks between 6 and 10 weeks of age. Thereafter this immune response slowly wanes and establishes a memory response.
These findings provide critical information for new vaccination strategies against TB. Such strategies will most likely involve administration of a second, different (or heterologous) TB vaccine a few weeks or months after BCG, to boost or modify the BCG-induced immune response. Our study results suggest that boosting of the BCG-primed T cell response may be best after 14 weeks of age, once an established memory response has developed.
For more detail on the study, click here to access the manuscript abstract.
Postdoctoral Fellowship in EpidemiologyThe South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative (SATVI) performs cutting-edge clinical, epidemiological and immunological research in TB pathogenesis and vaccine development. We are inviting applications for a postdoctoral fellowship within our clinical research team, to work on a project addressing the role of age and gender in risk for TB infection and disease during adolescence.To download the posting, click here.
TB vaccine research: New network connects European and African institutions
European and African research organisations are gearing up to improve and strengthen collaboration in tuberculosis (TB) vaccine research. Over ten institutions from both continents will create a network where knowledge on clinical trials will be exchanged, joint activities can be explored and coordinated, and where clinical trials capacity will be improved. This month the network has received a budget of 765,000 euros.
The network is funded by the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) and will be coordinated by the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Germany and TuBerculosis Vaccine Initiative (TBVI) from the Netherlands. The programme ‘Collaboration and integration of tuberculosis vaccine trials in Europe and Africa’ (TBTEA) will bring together researchers to strengthen collaboration between the north and the south and to exchange knowledge and know-how. African post-doc researchers will be trained in collaboration with European institutions that, in turn, will benefit from the experiences gained in endemic countries. This will contribute to an improved and sustainable research infrastructure in African countries where TB is a public health threat and prevent overlap and unnecessary duplication of work. European partners can learn how to make more efficient use of existing trial sites whereas African partners will benefit from the translation of European knowledge. From a scientific point of view, the platform will support current and novel assays to evaluate the immune response to vaccination in a clinical setting. The platform will aid the development of improved and harmonized assays, well-defined correlates of protection and valid biomarkers or surrogate markers to assist and accelerate the clinical evaluation of TB vaccine candidates.
TB, often thought to be a disease of the past, is diagnosed in up to ten million individuals per year. Every year nearly 2 million people die. BCG, the only currently available vaccine, conveys very limited protection. The disease causes great human suffering and serious financial burden and hampers economic growth. New vaccines form a crucial part of the fight to eliminate the disease. In the past 10 years a network of European institutions has developed a portfolio of novel vaccine candidates against TB. A number of candidates are now under evaluation in clinical trials in Africa as well as in Europe.
The project joins the following institutions:
- Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science, Dept Immunology, Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, Germany
- TuBerculosis Vaccine Initiative (TBVI), The Netherlands
- University of Oxford, UK
- Statens Serum Institute, Denmark
- University of Zaragoza, Spain
- Institut Pasteur de Lille, France
- University of Cape Town, South Africa
- Stellenbosch University, South Africa
- The Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI) at Makerere University, Uganda
- Armauer Hansen Research Institute (AHRI), Ethiopia
- Espoir Pour La Santé (EPLS), Senegal
'Paper of the month' for SATVI researchAugust 2011, Cape Town - Research published in the July 2011 edition of the Journal of Immunology, by Senior Researcher Cheryl Day and colleagues of the South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative (SATVI) of the University of Cape Town, has been posted as "Paper of the month" for Fundamental Research on the StopTB Partnership's TB Research Movement website.
The paper, Functional Capacity of Mycobacterium Tuberculosis-specific T Cell Responses in Humans is Associated with Mycobacterial Load, may be accessed at http://www.stoptb.org/global/research/fundamental.asp
New Director takes leadership of SATVI
1 July 2011, Cape Town – As from today, Professor Willem Hanekom will take over the Directorship of the South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative (SATVI) of the University of Cape (UCT). This follows the decision by Dr Hassan Mahomed to stand down as co-director of SATVI, a position shared with Prof Hanekom since September 2009.
This change in leadership forms part of an evaluation process currently underway in SATVI, which aims to develop a new vision and strategy designed at continued academic excellence and superb operational efficiency. The process also involves an external evaluation, involving local and international experts, during July 2011.
“We believe this change from co-directorship to a single leader is the first step in restructuring SATVI for operational efficiency,” says Prof. Hanekom, as he takes office on his first day as Director.
“This process will take many months to complete, and will involve wide consultation with current personnel members. Personnel will have the opportunity to express their opinion to current leadership, and to the external evaluators,” he has promised his team.
In the immediate future, Willem, as he is known to his staff, plans to spend much time in Worcester to get to know people, and to learn how SATVI operates at the field site.
“Hassan will remain at SATVI and focus on creating more vaccine trial opportunities, while finishing his PhD,’’ he says. “It is an absolute pleasure to build on the phenomenal job Hassan has done at the field site,” adds Willem.
In a letter to SATVI staff from the UCT’s Faculty of Health Sciences’ leadership, Professor Hanekom and Dr Mahomed were thanked for their outstanding contribution to SATVI’s ongoing success, and wished success for their new directions, pointing out that SATVI is widely regarded as the number 1 clinical TB vaccine trial site in the world, and would remain in this position!