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December 26, 1986

Vaccine Effort Faces Technical, Conceptual Hurdles

JAMA. 1986;256(24):3324. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380240014003

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"WE PROBABLY have much less knowledge [of basic immunology] than we need to make a vaccine" to replace Bacille bilié de Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine, cautions Barry Bloom, MD, chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York City. This was also the conclusion of a 1986 Institute of Medicine (part of the National Academy of Sciences—see pages 3332-3333 of this issue) report on priorities for developing countries. But recent application of recombinant engineering techniques holds out hope for progress.

Richard A. Young, PhD, of the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, Mass, and coworkers, have been able to manufacture and isolate the portions of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis genome that express different protein antigens (Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 1985;82:2583-2587). Investigators now can use this DNA library to determine which bacterial genes express proteins that elicit protective immunity in the human host. The library also might