In the past, many researchers have tried to engineer virus-like particles (VLP) for use in nano-particle drug research. VLP’s (reprogrammed Hepatitis B viruses in particular) could potentially be used for targeted drug delivery. However, doing so successfully has been a notoriously difficult task for researchers. Now, after four years, a team from Stanford University has been able to successfully reprogram the Hepatitis B virus so that it can now be used as a successful VLP for various applications.
The team altered the genetic code of the virus so the capsid would be able to hide itself within the body’s immune system. The changed capsid also improved nanoparticle stability, removed the surface charge of the protein, and added a rare spike region to the shell structure without disrupting the the internal proteins of the virus. With these developments, other groups will be able to utilize stabilized VLP’s for targeted drug delivery, vaccines, imaging, and potentially, targeted tumor treatments.