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IISc develops particles to deliver antibodies to cells

Date: 23 May 2020 Tags: Biotechnology


 Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) have found a novel vehicle to deliver antibodies to cells, breaking the cell-membrane barrier that prevents antibodies from entering the cell.



Monoclonal antibodies are those that originate from identical immune cells having a common origin. They are highly effective, non-toxic and can specifically target diseased cells, and are used in immunotherapy to treat psoriasis, cancer and autoimmune disorders. However, since antibodies are unable to cross the cell membrane, they have mainly been used against antigens present on the surface of cells.



  • While earlier research has found that delivering therapeutic antibodies into a cell to target antigens present inside requires a vehicle that can cross the cell membrane and that Virus-Like Particles (VLPs) have this ability.

  • The IISc researchers have now developed a VLP of a plant virus called the Pepper vein banding virus (PVBV) to use as a possible vehicle to deliver antibodies into a cell.
    These VLPs can enter mammalian cells as well, despite being of plant origin.

  • The researchers genetically engineered the PVBV VLPs by adding the antibody-binding domain of a protein from Staphylococcus aureus bacteria to an exposed region of the coat protein of the VLP.

  • The resultant is called a chimeric VLP. This chimera, when exposed to the antibodies that need to be transported, can recognize and bind to them to form a stable complex.

  • The researchers also chemically combined fluorescent molecules to the surface of the VLPs, which allows them to track and therefore check if the VLPs are delivering the antibodies to the right location.

  • The study is a proof of concept showing the advantages of using biodegradable, non-infectious and rod-shaped plant VLPs.

  • Further research can be conducted on animal models to test the delivery of antibodies to specific cells, such as cancer cells. This can have immense therapeutic potential for the treatment of diseases such as cancer and neurodegenerative disorders.