Researchers at the University of California, Davis have engineered a nanocapsid composed of Hepatitis E virus (HEV) capsid protein that is resistant to acid and proteolysis.
Nanocarriers have been constructed from biological and chemical substances such as albumin and solid metal-containing particles, respectively. Virus-like particles (VLPs) have been used as nanocarriers to display foreign epitopes and also deliver small molecules. Nanocarriers as drug delivery systems enable a sophisticated approach to combat many diseases, including cancer.
Researchers at UC Davis have engineered a acid and proteolysis resistant nanocapsid composed of Hepatitis E virus (HEV) capsid protein forming nanoparticles. The nanocapsid was engineered to enable it to conjugate adhesion tags e.g. peptide or oligosaccharides for specific cell targeting of the nanoparticles. Although feasible, current nanocarrier technology presents a delivery system that has low specificity for targeting cancer cells. UCD researchers implored genetic and chemical modifications to engineer HEV-based nanoparticles that are highly specific and more stable than current platforms. Their studies demonstrate that chemical conjugation with target ligand was capable of eliciting uptake of nanoparticles specifically into breast cancer cells. In vivo and ex vivo imaging confirm the specific uptake of these nanoparticles by mouse breast tumors. A novel feature of these viral-based nanoparticles is that they are able to conjugate synthetic macromolecules and non-proteinogenic amino acids without compromising particle integrity. In addition, the preserved interior surface of the nanocapsid enables the encapsulation of negatively charged payloads such as siRNA. As such, they are useful multi-functional platform vehicles for targeted theranostic delivery.