TB Vaccines: Global Solutions for Global Problems

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Science  28 May 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5419, pp. 1479-1480
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5419.1479

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Deciphering the differences between the many substrains of BCG (the bacillus used in the preparation of vaccines to prevent tuberculosis) should help solve the mystery of the large variability in efficacy between different vaccine preparations. In a Perspective, Young and Robertson discuss the application of DNA microarray technology to the comparison of the genomes of BCG substrains with the genome of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the pathogen that causes tuberculosis ( Behr et al.). They explain that the large number of missing genes (almost 100) in BCG substrains compared with M. tuberculosis indicates a broad genetic diversity in the Mycobacterium family not previously appreciated.