Virus–like protein particles can be applied as carriers for RNA gene therapy. The release of the RNA, however, is still a major problem. The goal of this proposal is to develop new routes towards the controlled opening of the virus capsid combining the cutting-edge science of bioconjugate chemistry and virology. This project intends to find a suitable carrier among non-infectious virus particles for small interfering RNA (siRNA) to be used for gene therapy. siRNA has the ability to specifically degrade RNA of a particular sequence and selectively stop the production of an abnormal undesired protein, which makes it a very promising therapeutic agent. The major obstacle, however, is to find an efficient method for cellular delivery of the RNA material. Virus-like particles, that are self-assembled protein cages, have the potential to be used as addressable carriers for siRNA. The Finn Group at the Scripps Research Institute has recently developed a method to produce virus-like particles that contain siRNA. The goal of the project is to engineer this particle, such that it successfully delivers the RNA into the targeted cell. This project will have the potential to make significant contributions to the fields of biomedicine and targeted drug delivery, strategically important areas identified by the European Technology Platform on Nanomedicine.
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