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Published: 31 January 2014  
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Countries involved in the project described in the article:
Belgium  |  Denmark  |  France  |  Germany  |  Italy  |  Korea  |  Netherlands  |  Spain  |  Switzerland  |  United Kingdom
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Tuberculosis: An injection of hope

Tuberculosis still turns some people’s lives to hell. At a pharmaceutical lab near a hospital in Spain, scientists from a European Union research project are trying to find answers to the complex and often dramatic challenges posed by the disease.

Photo of Doctors examining a patient
Video in QuickTime format:  ar  de  en  es  fa  fr  el  it  pt  ru  tr  uk  (10.2 MB)

Tuberculosis still turns some people’s lives to hell. One of them is Alfredo Cabaleiro Besada, from Spain.

He said: “After being diagnosed with tuberculosis, I had two options; first, a long stay in a hospital room where nobody could visit me without wearing a special mask.

“Second, staying secluded at home and coming here to the hospital every day for treatment, a daily injection and 22 pills that I also had to take daily in the presence of a nurse.

“I opted for this second option. If ever I had to go outside, to the bakery or other places, I always had to wear a mask.”

Alfredo recovered, but TB still kills 1.5 million people every year worldwide and around 100,000 new cases are diagnosed every year in Europe.

At a pharmaceutical lab near the hospital, scientists from a European Union research project are trying to find answers to the complex and often dramatic challenges posed by the disease.

The project’s first result is a new candidate vaccine, produced at these research facilities.

Unlike the only existing, 100-year-old tuberculosis vaccine, this is a live vaccine based on a weakened version of the bacterium that causes the disease.

Researchers hope this will make the vaccine safer and more effective though it poses huge challenges for its fabrication.

Some 1,800 kilometers from Vigo, in Lausanne, Switzerland the first clinical trials using real volunteers have begun.

At this stage, doctors and researchers want to evaluate the candidate vaccine’s safety and also to get an accurate first impression of how efficient it could be to stimulate some molecules thought to protect the human body against the disease.

Provided that it successfully passes the 3 clinical trials needed for scientific validation, researchers hope that industrial production of the new vaccine could start in around ten years.

Project details

  • Project acronym:NEWTBVAC
  • Participants: Netherlands (Coordinator),Italy, UK, Switzerland, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Korea, France, Denmark
  • FP7 Project N° 231640
  • Total costs: €18 875 943
  • EU contribution: €11 996 730
  • Duration: January 2010 - February 2014

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Futuris, the European research programme - on Euronews. The video on this page was prepared in collaboration with Euronews for the Futuris programme.

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Project information on CORDIS

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