What are Virus-like particles (VLPs)?


07:04 AM

1 min read
What are Virus-like particles (VLPs)? Blog Image


Scientists at the Institute of Advanced Virology (IAV), Thiruvananthapuram, recently developed a novel way of generating non-infectious Nipah virus-like particles (VLPs) in the laboratory.

About Virus-like Particles (VLPs):

  • VLPs are molecules that resemble viruses but lack infectivity because of the absence of viral genetic material.
  • They are a very effective way of creating vaccines against diseases such as human papillomavirus (HPV), hepatitis B, malaria, and more.
  • As they are very similar to real viral molecules, introducing a VLP into the body will trigger an immune response, but a person will not experience any symptoms of the virus they are being vaccinated against. 
  • Once the body has had an immune response to the VLP, it will recognize the virus and prevent infection in the future, giving people immunity to that particular virus.
  • Structure:
    • VLPs are very small, with a particle radius of approximately 20 to 200 nm. This means that they can easily enter the lymph nodes, where the immune system is activated in the case of an infection.
    • A VLP consists of one or more structural proteins that can be arranged in multiple layers.
    • They can also contain an outer lipid envelope, which is the outermost layer that covers a large number of different viruses. This outer layer protects the genetic material inside the virus particle.
  • Creating a VLPvaccinecan use bacterial, yeast, insect, or mammalian cells
  • When used as a vaccine, VLPs cause a robust immunogenic response due to their high-density display of epitopes and the capacity to present multiple proteins to the immune system.
  • Most recently, VLPs have been employed as nanomachines to deliver pharmaceutically active products to specific sites and into specific cells in the body.

Key Facts about Nipah Virus:

  • Nipah virus (NiV) is a zoonotic virus (it is transmitted from animals to humans) and can also be transmitted through contaminated food or directly between people.
  • In infected people, it causes a range of illnesses, from asymptomatic (subclinical) infection to acute respiratory illness and fatal encephalitis
  • The virus can also cause severe disease in animals, such as pigs, resulting in significant economic losses for farmers.
  • It first broke out in Malaysia and Singapore in 1998 and 1999.
  • Treatment
    • There are currently no drugs or vaccines specific for Nipah virus infection.
    • Intensive supportive careis recommended to treat severe respiratory and neurologic complications.

Q1: What is a Virus?

A virus is an infectious microbe consisting of a segment of nucleic acid (either DNA or RNA) surrounded by a protein coat. A virus cannot replicate alone; instead, it must infect cells and use components of the host cell to make copies of itself. Often, a virus ends up killing the host cell in the process, causing damage to the host organism. Well-known examples of viruses causing human disease include AIDS, COVID-19, measles and smallpox.

Source: New method to generate virus-like particles, to help with developing antibodies against Nipah