Tuberculosis vaccines: Opportunities and challenges

Bingdong Zhu, Hazel M. Dockrell, Tom H.M. Ottenhoff, Thomas G. Evans, Ying Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Tuberculosis (TB) is a serious disease around the world. Bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG) is the only TB vaccine licensed for use in human beings, and is effective in protecting infants and children against severe miliary and meningeal TB. However, BCG's protective efficacy is variable in adults. Novel TB vaccine candidates being developed include whole-cell vaccines (recombinant BCG (rBCG), attenuated Mycobacterium tuberculosis, killed M. tuberculosis or Mycobacterium vaccae), adjuvanted protein subunit vaccines, viral vector-delivered subunit vaccines, plasmid DNA vaccines, RNA-based vaccines etc. At least 12 novel TB vaccine candidates are now in clinical trials, including killed M. vaccae, rBCG ΔureC::hly, adjuvanted fusion proteins M72 and H56 and viral vectored MVA85A. Unfortunately, in TB, there are no correlates of vaccine-induced protection, although cell-mediated immune responses such as interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) production are widely used to assess vaccine's immunogenicity. Recent studies suggested that central memory T cells and local secreted IgA correlated with protection against TB disease. Clinical TB vaccine efficacy trials should invest in identifying correlates of protection, and evaluate new TB biomarkers emerging from human and animal studies. Accumulating new knowledge on M. tuberculosis antigens and immune profiles correlating with protection or disease risk will be of great help in designing next generation of TB vaccines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)359-368
Number of pages10
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2018


  • biomarkers
  • clinical trials
  • immunity
  • tuberculosis
  • vaccines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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