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Glaxo's Tuberculosis Vaccine Positive in Mid-Stage Study

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GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK - Free Report) and Aeras, a non-profit organization, announced positive primary results from a phase IIb study evaluating vaccine candidate, M72/AS01E, in HIV-negative patients with latent tuberculosis infection. The initial data from the study showed that the vaccine candidate led to a significant reduction in incidence of pulmonary tuberculosis disease in the patient population.

The primary results from the study were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Data from the study showed that M72/AS01E vaccine achieved improved protection of latent tuberculosis infection in 54% of patients after two years of treatment with acceptable safety and reactogenicity profile.

Shares of Glaxo have outperformed the industry so far this year. The stock has gained 13.8% comparing favorably with industry’s 6.7% rise.

M72/AS01E is a recombinant fusion protein derived from two Mycobacterium tuberculosis antigens combined with Adjuvant System AS01 and Shingrix vaccines.

The study is sponsored by Glaxo and is conducted in partnership with Aeras, a non-profit organization funded by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other organizations from United Kingdom, Netherlands and Australia.

The ongoing phase IIb study is evaluating the vaccine candidate as a prevention of tuberculosis disease in patients with latent Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection compared to placebo in centers situated in tuberculosis endemic regions in South Africa, Zambia and Kenya. Final data from the study is expected in 2019.

Per the press release, tuberculosis is the leading cause of death among patients with infectious disease. The disease was detected in 10 million new patients and caused death of 1.6 million patients in 2017. It is estimated that about a quarter of the global population has latent tuberculosis infection and about 10% of them will develop active pulmonary tuberculosis disease. Meanwhile, an increasing number of patients are showing multi-drug resistant strains of tuberculosis globally. The only available vaccine, BCG, is often found with inconsistent protection against the disease in patients.

However, several pharma companies are developing treatment for multi-drug resistant tuberculosis. Some of these include Janssen’s, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson (JNJ - Free Report) , bedaquiline and Mylan (MYL - Free Report) and Otsuka’s Deltyba.

Zacks Rank & Key Pick

Glaxo is a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) stock currently.

Another stock to consider from the same space is Eli Lilly and Company (LLY - Free Report) , which also carries a Zacks Rank #2. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Lilly’s earnings per share estimates have increased from $5.37 to $5.47 for 2018 and from $5.62 to $5.73 for 2019 over the past 60 days. The company delivered a positive earnings surprise in all the trailing four quarters with an average beat of 10.15%. The stock has rallied 25.3% year to date.

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