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Newsletter April 2014     

"The latest modelling studies of WHO confirm again that new vaccines would dramatically reduce the world incidence of tuberculosis. In 2013, therefore, together with our more than fifty research partners, we continued our search for new, life-saving vaccines for tuberculosis." That says Dr Jelle Thole, executive director of the Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative (TBVI) in the Annual Report 2013 of the foundation. In this newletter we highlight some of the stories in this report.

Read the press release we sent out

TBVI’s vision is of a future with safe and effective TB vaccines for all: vaccines to protect children, adolescents and adults from getting ill from TB, and therapeutic vaccines which are able to shorten the long and burdensome treatment of patients, especially those with Multi Drug-Resistant (MDR) and Extensively Drug-Resistant (XDR) TB. Our strategy is therefore based on developing several different types of vaccines, with a view to serving all these groups.

Read more details about our strategy

Vaccines are an obvious answer to the threat of tuberculosis and they are cost-effective as well. Michèle Boccoz, French ambassador to Croatia, considers the development of new TB vaccines an important investment in the future. So important, in fact, that she dedicates part of her time to her work as a member of the Governance Board of TBVI.

Read how an ambassador became involved in scientific research and vaccine development

In past years, dozens of TB vaccine candidates have been developed in laboratories and more are currently being developed. Many of them are about to enter, or have already entered the (pre)clinical stages of development. Worldwide, including within TBVI, the financial resources available to progress all vaccine candidates through the pipeline are scarce and more funds are needed. To facilitate advancing the best-in-class candidates at different stages of development, we introduced the method of portfolio management. Portfolio management is considered to be the most efficient and effective method of advancing a vaccine through the pipeline.

Read more about TBVI's portfolio management

A protracted cold, the doctor thought. Or gastric reflux, as the next diagnosis read. Or bronchial asthma. Test after test, diagnosis after diagnosis, it took Cordula from Germany about fifteen months to find out she had tuberculosis. “Because I wasn’t diagnosed sooner, I’ve been walking around highly contagious for a very long time.”

In May 2008, German Cordula, then 25 years old, starts coughing. Various doctors give various diagnoses and different treatments. Lung tests mostly come back without results. She had fevers and was sweating, especially at night. Cordula: “Work at that time was very difficult, due both to the physical exhaustion and a lack of concentration.” The coughing was getting to a point where it was difficult to speak normally. Friends, family and colleagues were becoming increasingly concerned about Cordula’s poor health.

Read the whole story

Looking back at 2013, important steps forward have been made in the development of new, life-saving vaccines against tuberculosis. TBVI contributed by coordinating and funding R&D projects, stimulating interaction and organising meetings. The overall objective was to support R&D and to exchange knowledge among scientists so as to speed up the development of TB vaccines.

Read the overview on our website

Of course, tuberculosis doesn’t discriminate between men and women. But Shobha Shukla is confident that women in India are still much more affected by the disease. Ms Shukla is managing editor of the India-based Citizen News Service (CNS). “TB is one of the most neglected diseases in India. And women suffer more, much more than anyone else.”

India bears an incredibly large part of the tuberculosis burden. The country accounts for a quarter of all cases worldwide and scores high on increase in drug resistance. Lack of awareness, misinformation and unqualified private doctors are some of the major issues, according to Shobha Shukla, who collects these stories for her website. CNS wants to voice the opinion of people whose voices are unheard. Dealing with health and development issues in India, tuberculosis is an important topic for CNS. As an editor and health activist, Ms Shukla is especially passionate about standing up for women.

Read the whole story
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