Engineering virus-like particles for a safe and efficacious vaccine platform.
Engineering virus-like particles for a safe and efficacious vaccine platform.

Project keywords

Vaccine, Virus-like particle, Rotavirus, Synthetic biology, Nanotechnology, Microbial platform, VLP, Nanobiotechnology, Health, Sustainability

Project summary

Virus-like Particles (VLPs) are a newly emerging vaccine technology, which resemble their live virus counterparts and are readily processed by the immune system, however they lack the genetic material required for virus replication.  Modular VLPs have the potential to present antigenic epitopes or proteins of a target disease, giving the antigenic module a viral molecular signature which induces potent immune response.  Furthermore, producing these modular VLPs in a recombinant microbial system, such as E. coli, offer a more rapid and cost effective alternative to the current egg- and cell-culture based vaccine technologies.

Modular murine polyomavirus VLPs targeting several infectious diseases including Influenza, Group A Streptococcus, and in particular Rotavirus, are currently under investigation. Rotavirus infections are responsible for more than 500,000 annual deaths of children worldwide, and are most prevalent in developing countries where financial and logistical challenges prevent the use of more costly vaccines.  Microbial production of modular VLPs presenting Rotavirus antigen peptides and proteins on the surface can address these challenges and provide a vaccine more suitable for the developing world.

Research on modular VLPs involves vaccine design, bioprocessing, and formulation. Vaccine design explores strategic and structural presentation of antigenic modules. Vaccine bioprocessing explores protein expression, purification, characterisation and process optimisation. Vaccine formulation explores excipients for improved stability and adjuvant formulation for improved immune response.  This research aims to advance a VLP vaccine platform which can address cost, speed, and safety concerns of current vaccine technology, and deliver vaccines suitable for a developing world.
 

Project contacts

Lead investigator Dr Natalie Connors
Research group Middelberg Group
Contact email n.connors@uq.edu.au

 

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