Thursday, December 25, 2014

Virus Like Particle Vaccine Technology Applications

Virus Like Particle Vaccines (VLP) are multiprotein structures that mimic the organization and conformation of authentic native viruses but lack the viral genome, potentially yielding safer and cheaper vaccine candidates. A handful of prophylactic VLP based vaccines are currently commercialized worldwide: GlaxoSmithKline's Engerix (hepatitis B virus) and Cervarix (human papillomavirus), and Merck and Co., Inc.'s Recombivax HB (hepatitis B virus) and Gardasil (human papillomavirus) are some examples. See:

According to the Salk Institute site, "Virus like particles are supra molecular assemblages incorporating key immunologic features of viruses which include repetitive surfaces, particulate structures with potential for induction of innate immunity through activation of pathogen associated molecular pattern recognition receptors. They carry no replicative genetic information and can be produced in heterologous expression systems at large scale. VLPs thus represent a safe and effective vaccine platform with potential to induce potent B and T cell responses. In addition to being effective vaccines against the corresponding viruses from which they are derived, virus like particles can also be used to present foreign epitopes to the immune system. This can be achieved by genetic fusion or chemical conjugation. This technological innovation has greatly broadened the scope of their use, from immunizing against microbial pathogens to immunotherapy for chronic diseases. Towards this end, VLP have been used to induce auto antibodies to disease associated self-molecules involved in chronic diseases such as hypertension and Alzheimer's disease. The recognition of the potent immunogenicity and commercial potential for VLP's has greatly accelerated research and development activities. During the last decade two prophylactic virus like particle vaccines have been registered for human use, while another 12 vaccines entered clinical development." See:

While major pharmaceuticals such as Merck and GSK are well into the VLP production stage, a couple other firms have recently caught my attention. Sentinext Therapeutics is working to develop a bivalen VLP against hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) See: hfmd#.Uwswl_15MVY According to a press release on Sentinext Therapeutics, their VLP based vaccine is intended to protect against 95% of viruses causing HFMD in comparison to EV71 vaccines that give protection against only 65-75% of viruses. Targeting the two major viruses, EV71 and Coxsackievirus A16, that cause HFMD in the Asia Pacific region. 'Up to 35 percent of the HFMD cases during outbreaks are caused by CVA16, whereas, all competing vaccines are monovalent EV71 vaccines. This gives an advantageous platform to bivalent vaccines as an EV71 monovalent vaccine will not protect against HFMD caused by CVA16 and virological diagnosis will be required in efficacy trials. Bivalent HFMD vaccine will facilitate efficacy trials with protection against HFMD as the clinical endpoint," says Dr. Cardosa. See:

Medicago, a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing highly effective and competitive vaccines based on proprietary manufacturing technologies and VLP's has achieved successful completion of a key milestone under an agreement with the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The milestone was the production of at least 10 million doses of H1N1 VLP influenza vaccine candidate in one month. This rapid fire test was conducted at Medicago's facility in Durham, North Carolina." See:

Dr.Jill Bellamy is an internationally recognized expert on biological warfare and defence. She has formerly advised NATO and for the past seventeen years has represented a number of bio-pharmaceutical and government clients working on procurement strategy between NATO MS and Washington DC. Her private government relations consultancy Warfare Technology Analytics is based in the Netherlands. Dr. Bellamy's articles have appeared in the National Review, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Sunday Times of London, Le Temps, Le Monde and the Jerusalem Post among other publications. She is a CBRN SME with the U.S. Department of Defence, Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defence Information Analysis Center and CEO of Warfare Technology Analytics.

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