Non-profit product development partnership Aeras has announced the start of a Phase I clinical trial of a new candidate tuberculosis vaccine, designed specifically to protect against the latent form of the disease.

The clinical trial is the first to test the vaccine in humans following pre-clinical studies in latently infected animals.

The vaccine is being developed by Aeras and Statens Serum Institut (SSI)

In pre-clinical trials the vaccine demonstrated no safety concerns, and was also shown to control clinical disease and reactivation in a non-human primate model.

The trial will involve 25 adults, both with and without latent tuberculosis, and will be conducted by the South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative (SATVI) at its field site in Worcester, Western Cape, South Africa.

SSI vice-president of vaccine R&D Professor Peter Andersen said: "The advancement of this candidate from an idea to the clinic working in collaboration first with the Grand Challenges consortium and now with Aeras and SATVI is an important and exciting milestone for all the researchers involved."

Preliminary results of the trial are expected at the end of 2012.