Two recent studies led by the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) may pave the way for the development of new TB treatments.
Results from the first study suggest that in the future doctors may be able to better identify people who have a greater risk of TB. Research identified the protein interleukin-32 as playing a key role in protecting people infected with TB from going on develop active TB. But the study also showed the vital role of vitamin D in combating the pathogen that causes TB, as interleukin-32 has only been shown to be effective alongside sufficient levels of vitamin D.
The study was conducted in partnership with researchers from Harvard University School of Public Health and the University of Michigan School of Medicine.
In a separate but related study, UCLA researchers have developed a variant of the existing BCG vaccine. The variant has been shown to provide stronger protection against both TB and leprosy.
“This is the first study demonstrating that an improved vaccine against tuberculosis also offers cross-protection against Mycobacterium leprae, the causative agent of leprosy,” said Dr. Marcus A. Horwitz, professor of medicine and microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics, and the study’s senior author. “That means that this vaccine has promise for better protecting against both major diseases at the same time. It is also the first study demonstrating that boosting a recombinant BCG vaccine further improves cross-protection against leprosy.”