Virus-like particles in vaccine development

Expert Rev Vaccines. 2010 Oct;9(10):1149-76. doi: 10.1586/erv.10.115.


Virus-like particles (VLPs) are multiprotein structures that mimic the organization and conformation of authentic native viruses but lack the viral genome, potentially yielding safer and cheaper vaccine candidates. A handful of prophylactic VLP-based vaccines is currently commercialized worldwide: GlaxoSmithKline's Engerix (hepatitis B virus) and Cervarix (human papillomavirus), and Merck and Co., Inc.'s Recombivax HB (hepatitis B virus) and Gardasil (human papillomavirus) are some examples. Other VLP-based vaccine candidates are in clinical trials or undergoing preclinical evaluation, such as, influenza virus, parvovirus, Norwalk and various chimeric VLPs. Many others are still restricted to small-scale fundamental research, despite their success in preclinical tests. This article focuses on the essential role of VLP technology in new-generation vaccines against prevalent and emergent diseases. The implications of large-scale VLP production are discussed in the context of process control, monitorization and optimization. The main up- and down-stream technical challenges are identified and discussed accordingly. Successful VLP-based vaccine blockbusters are briefly presented concomitantly with the latest results from clinical trials and the recent developments in chimeric VLP-based technology for either therapeutic or prophylactic vaccination.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biotechnology
  • Cell Line
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Nanotechnology
  • Vaccination
  • Vaccines, Virus-Like Particle* / immunology
  • Viral Vaccines*
  • Virus Assembly
  • Virus Diseases / immunology
  • Virus Diseases / prevention & control*


  • Vaccines, Virus-Like Particle
  • Viral Vaccines