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Expert Rev Vaccines. 2005 Jun;4(3):429-40.

Filovirus-like particles as vaccines and discovery tools.

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United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Fort Detrick, MD 21702-5011, USA.


Ebola and Marburg viruses are members of the family Filoviridae, which cause severe hemorrhagic fevers in humans. Filovirus outbreaks have been sporadic, with mortality rates currently ranging from 30 to 90%. Unfortunately, there is no efficacious human therapy or vaccine available to treat disease caused by either Ebola or Marburg virus infection. Expression of the filovirus matrix protein, VP40, is sufficient to drive spontaneous production and release of virus-like particles (VLPs) that resemble the distinctively filamentous infectious virions. The addition of other filovirus proteins, including virion proteins (VP)24, 30 and 35 and glycoprotein, increases the efficiency of VLP production and results in particles containing multiple filovirus antigens. Vaccination with Ebola or Marburg VLPs containing glycoprotein and VP40 completely protects rodents from lethal challenge with the homologous virus. These candidate vaccines are currently being tested for immunogenicity and efficacy in nonhuman primates. Furthermore, the Ebola and Marburg VLPs are being used as a surrogate model to further understand the filovirus life cycle, with the goal of developing rationally designed vaccines and therapeutics. Thus, in addition to their use as a vaccine, VLPs are currently being used as tools to learn lessons about filovirus pathogenesis, immunology, replication and assembly requirements.

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