Researchers at 19 institutions comprising the TBVAC-HORIZON have been awarded €9 million in funding to encourage research and development into tuberculosis. This project will specifically consider lung immunity and how infection evades the immune response. The project is coordinated by the Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative (TBVI) and is expected to last for 4 years.  

Why TB? 

TB is a bacterial infection spread through droplets expelled from the lungs of an infected person. It mainly targets the lungs and continues to be one of the world’s most devastating infectious diseases. The WHO reports that a total of 1.6 million people died from TB in 2021, which includes 187,000 people with HIV. It is the 13th leading cause of death and follows COVID-19 as the second leading infectious killer.  

Although up to 74 million lives were saved through diagnosis and treatment between 2000 and 2021, around $13 billion is needed every year for prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and care to achieve the global target agreed at the 2018 high-level meeting on TB. Ending the TB epidemic by 2030 is a health target of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  

Currently there is only for effective vaccine for TB, which is usually given to infants and young children, as it is less effective for adults. Therefore, development of improved vaccines is a priority for the WHO.  


Although there are a few candidates in clinical trials, the pipeline requires innovation. The programme will aim to address this need by examining the immune responses to infection in the lung, identifying biomarkers to “rationalise vaccine design” and improve vaccine immunity monitoring. Researchers within the programme will compare candidate vaccines and establish novel delivery systems and adjuvant formulations. A novel GMP platform for live attenuated vaccines will also be developed.  

Combining forces 

The consortium partners are: 

  • TuBerculosis Vaccine Initiative (TBVI) (Coordinator)  
  • Biomedical Primate Research Centre (BPRC)  
  • Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)  
  • Université Toulouse III – Paul Sabatier (UT3)  
  • Istituto Nazionale per le Malattie Infettive ‘Lazzaro Spallanzani’ (INMI-IRCCS)  
  • Institut Pasteur (IP)  
  • Institut Pasteur de Lille (IPL)  
  • Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC)  
  • Statens Serum Institut (SSI)  
  • University of Zaragoza (UNIZAR)  
  • University of Ulm (UULM)  
  • CZ Vaccines, S.A. (CZV)  
  • University of Basel (UNIBAS)  
  • Vaccine Formulation Institute CH, Ltd. (VFI)  
  • Department of Health (UKHSA)  
  • London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)  
  • Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)  
  • University of Leicester (ULEIC)  
  • University of Oxford (UOXF) 

Professor Andrea Cooper from the University of Leicester’s Tuberculosis Research Group (LTBRG) is one of the lead scientists for the project. She hopes that by “combining forces” and “identifying biomarkers” they can “improve vaccines as well as improving monitoring of vaccine immunity”.  

“The LTBRG already brings together scientists and academic clinicians to focus on overcoming tuberculosis at a local and national level, but this project will bring expertise from across Europe together to advance our research even further.”  

University of Oxford’s Professor Helen McShane is “enormously excited about the science we plan to perform”. As PI Translational Research Professor McShane is looking forward to covering “basic and translational science with an interdisciplinary and integrated approach”.  

“This work will advance understanding of protective immunity, particularly in the target organ, the lung, and in parallel improve the development of novel TB vaccine candidates.”  

Like many other consortia led by TBVI, partners will collaborate on “excellent science” to secure Europe’s “leading role” in the “development of a more effective TB vaccine”.  

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