In their paper on the TB020 study, published in Nature Communications, researchers identified that certain correlates of protection – inflammation and activation of the immune system (where the body responds to invading pathogens such as viruses and harmful bacteria) – were associated with the likelihood of becoming infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb), the bacteria that causes TB disease.
However, their previously identified correlates of risk of TB disease were not associated with an increased risk of M.tb infection in infants who became infected with the bacteria but did not progress to active TB.
Most individuals infected with M.tb do not progress to full TB disease. Instead, infection is either eliminated or contained by the infected individual. This study improves understanding of the immune-related factors that drive infection and disease – necessary for an effective TB vaccine that is yet to be developed.