Despite the success of vaccines produced from “virus-like particles” (VLPs) for hepatitis B and human papilloma viruses, poliovirus VLPs have proved to be too unstable to make practical vaccines. Now, a research team from the Faculty of Biological Sciences (FBS) has found a new way to modify these VLPs, also known as “empty capsids”, by identifying mutations which make their structures sufficiently stable to act as vaccines.
The empty capsids change shape when warmed and become unusable as vaccines, but the mutations identified in this research prevent these damaging changes.
Polio is on the verge of being eradicated world-wide, but even when it has been officially declared as extinct as a disease, governments will need to continue to vaccinate to ensure it does not recur.
Using current technology, the production of vaccine requires the growth of enormous quantities of live virus, which is then chemically killed, thus presenting a dangerous security risk of virus escaping into the environment.
These stabilised VLPs are suitable as replacements for the killed poliovirus vaccines and can be produced in ways that do not require the growth of live virus. Read more.