Attenuated RNA viruses for vaccine and drug delivery

Research in the lab of Prof. Sean Whelan has revealed new compositions to attenuate non-segmented negative-sense RNA (nsNS) viruses. Successful attenuation was demonstrated on vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) and involved specific residue modifications that impair methylation capping in new viral mRNA. Single-step growth assays showed that modified viruses yielded pin-point plaque morphologies and 10- to 1,000 fold replication defects compared to wild type viruses. The unique nature of these modifications addresses a conserved domain across a variety of nsNS viruses, as well as the potential to include multiple, redundant mutations for enhancing vaccine and viral vector safety.


Vaccines may target diseases caused by the Mononegavirales order of viruses. This order includes members of the family Rhabdoviridae (e.g. Rabies virus), Filoviridae (e.g. Marburg virus, Ebola virus) and Paromyxoviridae (e.g. Newcastle disease virus, measles virus, RSV, avian pneumovirus). Modified viruses carrying pharmaceutically (or agriculturally) relevant substances can be delivered to humans, animals and plants. For targeted drug delivery, the lack of mRNA cap methylation may be leveraged to generate highly-specific drug delivery vehicles through conjugation of the strain with a tunable viral coat.

Intellectual Property Status: Patent(s) Pending