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Last year to mark World Tuberculosis Day NDM spoke to Professor Helen McShane to find out more about her research developing an improved TB vaccine. NDM spoke to her again to find out if there have been any developments in the last year.

Q: Since we spoke to you last year what new developments have there been?

Helen McShane: The main new thing that we have been working on is a new way of administering TB vaccines. There is some evidence from mouse models to suggest that the best, most protective way of giving a TB vaccine is to deliver the vaccine directly in to the lungs. To do this the vaccine is administered using an aerosol. This is something that is generating a lot of interest in the field - since TB enters the body through the lungs this delivery method makes a lot of sense.

Q: Is this way of administering a TB vaccine effective in humans?

tuberculosis inhalerHM: We have just published results from a Phase I clinical trial comparing the safety and immunogenicity of the MV85A vaccine, delivered either by a needle or an aerosol, in individuals who had previously been vaccinated with BCG. This was a very successful study as it showed that the aerosol delivery was safe and also generated stronger immune responses in the lungs than the conventional delivery of the vaccine using a needle. As well as stimulating superior immune responses in the lungs, the aerosol delivery method also had comparable, if not trending towards higher, immune responses in the blood than the needle delivery method.

Q: What are the next steps?

HM: We are now running a Phase II clinical trial to look at whether you can give repeated doses of the vaccine.

Professor Helen McShane also gave an interview about the trial on Radio BBC Oxford. You can listen to her interview betwen 53:42 and 56:30.