Defining mechanisms of mycobacterial protective immunity using human experimental medicine and murine models


  • Prof Helen McShane

    University of Oxford

Project summary

Most of what we know about how to develop a better tuberculosis (TB) vaccine comes from studies in mice and human studies in the blood. Responses in humans are not always the same as in mice and responses in the lung and blood can differ. We need to understand more about what happens in the lungs in humans when people are infected with TB, as this is where the bacteria enters the body.

We cannot deliberately give people TB. However, I have developed a safe way of giving BCG, which is similar to TB and is used as a vaccine, directly into the lungs of healthy volunteers, to help understand which parts of the immune system respond to mycobacteria. I will also identify which of these responses can kill TB in a test tube. Working out how BCG vaccinations work is vital, but we need to improve upon them. I will also identify new proteins that are in TB which are naturally presented to the human immune system. I will then see whether these proteins can work as a vaccine in mice.

These research findings could be used to develop a stronger vaccination for TB.