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J Pharm Sci. 2011 Dec;100(12):5156-73. doi: 10.1002/jps.22724. Epub 2011 Aug 19.

Biophysical characterization and conformational stability of Ebola and Marburg virus-like particles.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas 66047, USA.


The filoviruses, Ebola virus and Marburg virus, cause severe hemorrhagic fever with up to 90% human mortality. Virus-like particles of EBOV (eVLPs) and MARV (mVLPs) are attractive vaccine candidates. For the development of stable vaccines, the conformational stability of these two enveloped VLPs produced in insect cells was characterized by various spectroscopic techniques over a wide pH and temperature range. Temperature-induced aggregation of the VLPs at various pH values was monitored by light scattering. Temperature/pH empirical phase diagrams (EPDs) of the two VLPs were constructed to summarize the large volume of data generated. The EPDs show that both VLPs lose their conformational integrity above about 50°C-60°C, depending on solution pH. The VLPs were maximally thermal stable in solution at pH 7-8, with a significant reduction in stability at pH 5 and 6. They were much less stable in solution at pH 3-4 due to increased susceptibility of the VLPs to aggregation. The characterization data and conformational stability profiles from these studies provide a basis for selection of optimized solution conditions for further vaccine formulation and long-term stability studies of eVLPs and mVLPs.

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