Viruses reengineered to deliver therapies to cells

Scientific Developments/Breakthroughs

A team from Stanford University have been able to reengineer viruses in a way that allows them to be used as vessels to deliver therapies to cells.

The team has designed a virus-like particle that uses the same delivery vehicle as viruses, but without the infectious payload. In doing so, they were able to mimic the way the virus can target and travel to specific parts of the body.

“Scientists have developed a technique to allow them to reengineer viruses into delivery vehicles to transport therapies to cells.“

With this technique, it may be possible to target sick cells while leaving healthy tissue alone. Using smart particles for immunotherapy would involve tagging the outer surface of the particle with molecules designed to teach the body's disease-fighting cells to recognise and destroy cancers.

The next step will be to pack small quantities of medicines into the smart particles, delivering them to and into diseased cells, and engineering them to release their payloads.

James Swartz, professor of chemical engineering and bioengineering at Stanford, said: "This was a proof-of-principle experiment, so there's a lot of work to be done. But I believe we can use this smart particle to deliver cancer-fighting immunotherapies that will have minimal side effects."

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