Updated on 11 July 2012
Medicago's VLPs mimic the native structure of a virus, allowing them to be recognized readily by the immune system without the core genetic material, making them non-infectious and unable to replicate. The VLPExpress platform identifies the best VLP-based antigen presentations for a disease-causing agent within 10 weeks. Each antigen or antigen variants are rapidly screened for their potential to provide protection. The use of VLPs for antigen surface display allows for the full exploitation of the immunogenic potential of the best antigens. The combination of these technologies in the VLPExpress platform allows researchers to express numerous target proteins of a pathogen to build a library of all possible VLPs in a short time.
Taking the technology to Asia, Medicago has collaborated with Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma to develop and commercialize at least three new rotavirus VLP vaccine candidates.
US firm Novavax is in the advanced development stage of VLP-based vaccines against both seasonal and pandemic influenza. In a clinical trial of more than 4,000 subjects in Mexico, the H1N1 VLP vaccine was found to be well-tolerated and immunogenic even at the lowest dose of five micrograms tested and after one immunization.
The technology holds huge promise for the future and promises effective alternative to the present set of vaccines available around the world. "VLPs can be exploited as platforms to increase the immunogenicity of poorly immunogenic antigens and this technology is useful for future therapeutic vaccination," says Dr Gerardo Guillen, Biomedical Research Director, Centro de Ingenieria Genetica y Biotecnologia, Cuba.