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Research carried out on mice by scientists in South Korea has shown that a combination of vaccination and chemotherapy can accelerate the disappearance of the tuberculosis bacteria.

The results of the team of scientists, led by Youngchul Sung of Pohang University of Science and Technology, are published in Gene Therapy this month. The researchers say the new treatment seems to work much faster and protect against re-infection better than the existing drug-only therapy.

The current treatment course for the disease is so long — lasting up to 12 months — that patients often fail to complete the treatment. This has led to the emergence of drug-resistant strains of the bacteria, which, together with HIV infection, is partly responsible for spread of tuberculosis since 1985.

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