Targeted drug delivery and vaccinology approaches using virus-like particles for cancer

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Şereflioğlu S., Yapıcı E., Şahin S., Ozsoy Y., Üstündağ C. B.

ISTANBUL JOURNAL OF PHARMACY, vol.47, pp.112-119, 2017 (Journal Indexed in ESCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Review
  • Volume: 47
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Doi Number: 10.5152/istanbuljpharm.2017.0018
  • Page Numbers: pp.112-119
  • Keywords: Nanocarriers, virus-like particles, drug delivery, cancer vaccine, cancer therapy, CERVICAL INTRAEPITHELIAL NEOPLASIA, AS04-ADJUVANTED VACCINE, PROTEIN, EFFICACY, NANOPARTICLES, INFECTION, PLATFORM


Nanotechnology has the potential to alter dramatically treatment of diseases such as cancer by targeted drug delivery via nanoparticles. Virus-like particles (VLPs) are made up by the capsid proteins lacking the viral genome and are non-infectious. With identical or highly related structures to their corresponding native viruses, VLPs are self-assembly competent protein structures. VLPs with precise 3D nanostructures show a notable diversity of shapes and structures, and by using biological amplification and growth, can be produced in large quantities. They can display external protein inserts through genetics methods or chemical modifications. Functionalized VLPs can target with specificity as delivery systems and can attract macrophages for the destruction of cancer cells. The capability to target tumours for delivery of therapeutic agents is an important goal for VLPs design approaches. Against the current problems in cancer therapies, delivery systems with VLPs are arising and promising field with the potential to exhibit solutions. Cancer therapies need specific targeting of diagnostic element or drug to tumour cells without binding to or affecting healthy cells and tissues. Specialization of the VLPs gives an opportunity for use of VLPs as site-specific drug delivery system in cancer therapy while reducing the overall damage to healthy cells and systemic toxicity. With fewer side effects, immunotherapy is also a promising alternative for cancer treatment by primarily activating the host’s immune system. Cancer vaccines try to induce immune response in the host and generate defensive mechanism for tumour cells. Due to their naturally-optimized particle size and their repetitive structural order, VLPs can be used as a vaccine without any adjuvant requirement. Therefore, the aim of this review is to provide basic information on VLPs, describe previous researches of VLPs as carrier in drug delivery and vaccines, and applications for different cancer types.