FEB 05, 2017 9:12 AM PST

'Virus-Like Particle' Method to Make new Polio Vaccines Proven Effective

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

'Virus-like particles' (VLPs) have been used to create effective vaccines for a number of viral threats including hepatitis B and human papilloma viruses. VLPs have been altered so they do not cause disease; they resemble viruses in many ways but do not contain viral genetic material. VLPs for poliovirus were once too unstable to be useful as vaccines for general use. Researchers working at the University of Leeds in the UK have engineered these VLPs so they are now stable enough for utilization as a polio vaccine. If you want to know more about what polio is, watch the video below from the Khan Academy.

VLPs often assemble like a virus, forming structures known as empty capsids, viral shells that in this case don't contain viral DNA. While they once changed shape when they got warm, rendering them useless as vaccines, the alterations introduced by the Leeds scientists have fixed that problem. The researchers believe this vaccine will be best for use after polio is eradicated.

While polio is very close to being totally eradicated globally, vaccinations will need to continue in order to keep it from reemerging as a threat to public health. Large amounts of vaccine are necessary for successful, large-scale vaccine production as well, so using a non-pathogenic method to manufacture vaccine will be far safer than using live virus, which presents an obvious health and security risk. These advances have been published in the open-access Journal of Virology. 

"Continuing to vaccinate after polio has been eradicated is essential to ensure against the disease recurring, but there are significant biosafety concerns about current production methods," commented co-study leader David Rowlands, a Professor of Molecular Virology at the University.

"Our new method of creating the vaccine has been proven to work in lab conditions and on top of that we've proved it's actually more stable than existing vaccines. The improved stability of these modified VLPs means that they can be produced using bioengineering techniques without involving the growth of live virus".

The investigators have demonstrated that stabilized VLPs can be utilized effectively under controlled conditions. Additional research with model organisms like mice and rats will be necessary and is planned as an important part of crucial procedure of ensuring the safety and efficacy of these new VLPs for use in people. 

"The international drive to eradicate polio using existing vaccines continues, but methods need to be found to maintain vaccination safely as insurance after it appears to have been eradicated. This is when our approach will come into its own," said the co-study leader, Professor Nicola Stonehouse of the University of Leeds.

"Further research is needed to refine them more but we are confident they will work for all three forms of polio. After that we need to find a way to manufacture them cost effectively on a large scale," she concluded.

If you would like to learn more about VLPs, check out the video above featuring Professor Anton Middelberg of the Australian Institute for Bioengineering & Nanotechnology at The University of Queensland.

 

Sources: AAAS/Eurekalert via University of Leeds, Journal of Virology 

About the Author
BS
Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
MAY 12, 2022
Cell & Molecular Biology
How Diet & Gut Microbes Can Combine to Cause Depression
MAY 12, 2022
How Diet & Gut Microbes Can Combine to Cause Depression
Proline is an amino acid that is required for a variety of essential functions. Researchers have now found that proline ...
JUN 28, 2022
Cell & Molecular Biology
Scientists Discover Viruses That Infect Archaea
JUN 28, 2022
Scientists Discover Viruses That Infect Archaea
Recent research has suggested that all eukaryotic life is descended from an Asgard archaea
JUL 23, 2022
Drug Discovery & Development
Antibiotics Affect Gut Microbiome of Male and Female Rats Differently
JUL 23, 2022
Antibiotics Affect Gut Microbiome of Male and Female Rats Differently
Antibiotics induce sex-specific effects on the gut microbiome of male and female rats. The corresponding study was publi ...
AUG 04, 2022
Health & Medicine
Parechovirus Infections are Increasing in Infants
AUG 04, 2022
Parechovirus Infections are Increasing in Infants
This year, 29 infants have been admitted to the Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt University Medical Center with human p ...
AUG 17, 2022
Cell & Molecular Biology
An Antiviral Defense Mechanism That's Shared Across All Domains of Life
AUG 17, 2022
An Antiviral Defense Mechanism That's Shared Across All Domains of Life
Surprisingly similar mechanisms of pattern recognition can be found among incredibly diverse organisms.
AUG 15, 2022
Microbiology
Untangling the Links Between Alcohol, Liver Disease & Gut Microbes
AUG 15, 2022
Untangling the Links Between Alcohol, Liver Disease & Gut Microbes
Chronic alcohol use is a serious health problem, and a major contributor to liver disease and mortality. The gut microbi ...
Loading Comments...