NZer helps design new tuberculosis vaccine

A New Zealand scientist has helped design a promising new vaccine for tuberculosis.

If successful, it could help save 1.5 million lives worldwide each year.

Axel Heiser, a scientist at AgResearch in Palmerston North, is leading a team of scientists who've made a promising new tuberculosis vaccine.

If further trials show it works, it could be a major breakthrough.

"If this would be applied as a vaccine then we could probably prevent the 1.5 million deaths a year that we have right now and reduce the risk for these multi-drug resistant strains to become a global threat," Heiser says.

The only existing vaccine was first used almost 100 years ago, and has a variety of shortcomings.

"The only vaccine that we have, it's called BCG and only works for very severe cases in children up to 11 years old, so there is a need for a new vaccine."

It's shown promise in trials on mice.  They now need to carry out larger trials, but they hope they could have a new vaccine available for humans in the next 10 to 15 years.