Research Projects

Production of HPV L1/L2 chimaeric VLP vaccines – Prof Rybicki

Production of HPV L1/L2 chimaeric VLP vaccines – Prof Rybicki

Prof Ed Rybicki

Prof Ed Rybicki

Prof Ed Rybicki

Project Title

Production of HPV L1/L2 chimaeric VLP vaccines in plants and insect cells for broad protection against cervical cancer.

Project Description

Papillomaviruses (PVs) are small viruses that infect many different species. Human papillomaviruses (HPV) are known to cause warts, and are associated with certain cancers in humans. They are divided into high and low-risk HPV types, where the high-risk types such as HPV 16, 18, 33 and 58 infect the genital epithelium and can produce lesions which progress to invasive cervical and other cancers. Specific high-risk types of HPV are causally associated with cervical cancer and cancer of the cervix. HPV 16 is the most prevalent high-risk HPV type found to be associated with cervical cancer, here as elsewhere. Recently virus-like particle (VLP) vaccines against HPV have been developed. These vaccines are produced by Glaxo Smith Kline and Merck, by use of recombinant baculoviruses in insect cells and in yeast, respectively. However, affordability and vaccine stability will be a problem in developing countries, given the requirement for a cold chain and the predicted expense of current vaccine candidates. Further development and testing of alternative vaccines is therefore warranted as is the investigation of alternative expression systems that would reduce the cost of the vaccines. In the present project the researchers aimed to develop candidate vaccines that will cross-protect against more than one type of HPV. Additionally they wished to determine if plant-produced VLPs are as efficient as vaccines produced by the conventional method in insect cells by comparing the immune response elicited in mice when they are vaccinated with these VLPs.


Animal experiments began in May 2016 and should be completed by July 2016. Pseudovirion based neutralisation assays (PBNAs) are used to determine if animals vaccinated with VLPs have reacted appropriately to the vaccine, and show the potential of the VLPs as vaccine candidates. Overall the project has progressed very well and will be completed in this year.


29th International Papillomavirus Conference, August 21-25, 2014, Washington.  Poster presented: Optimisation of transient expression and structural characterisation of HPV-16 L1/L2 chimaericvirus-like particles in Nicotianabenthamiana


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