Scientists have developed a novel synthetic vaccine for poliovirus with a method grown in plants that use a virus like particles (VLPs).
VLPs look like viruses but are non-infectious. They have been biologically engineered so they do not contain the nucleic acid that allows viruses to replicate. This means that they mimic the behaviour of the virus, stimulating the immune system to respond without causing an infection of poliomyelitis.
Genes that carry information to produce VLPs are infiltrated into the plant tissues. The host plant then reproduces large quantities of them using its own protein expression mechanisms.
To confirm the structure of the empty shells, the team used cryo-electron microscopy at Diamond’s Electron Bio-Imaging Centre (eBIC). With this, they were also able to demonstrate the external features of the synthetic vaccine were identical to the live virus one.
The scientists at the John Innes Center believe that the process is cheap, easy and quick, also it will help to eliminate poliovirus.
This technology is not limited to polio or even just to vaccines, as long as researchers have the right sequence of genetic code, they can make a vaccine against most viruses.
According to scientists, their approach could help the world to threats unexpected such as Zika virus or Ebola. The outcome of this impressive and important success is a vaccine that has all the features needed to train the immune system without causing an infection.
Professor George Lomonossoff, from the John Innes Centre, said: “This is an incredible collaboration involving plant science, animal virology and structural biology. The question for us now is how to scale it up, we don’t want to stop at a lab technique.”
Although this is still early results, it does provide evidence that this can be taken to the next stage with input of pharmaceutical industry collaborators.
The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.