Ian Jones of the University of Reading in the United Kingdom will investigate new methods to produce empty poliovirus capsids. These are virus-like particles that stimulate the same immunity as poliovirus itself but are completely non-infectious. A successful technology could offer cost and safety benefits leading to the replacement of traditional polio vaccines. In Phase I, he provided proof-of-concept for efficient assembly of empty viral capsids in vitro by testing different approaches to reduce the activity of the 3C enzyme, which has been associated with toxicity. In Phase II, he will scale-up viral capsid production, provide a complete biochemical and biophysical analysis of the capsids, and evaluate factors to promote stability, which is required for a usable vaccine. He will also test the ability of their empty viral capsids to initiate a protective immune response by immunizing small animal models.
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