Daan Vervoort (Venlo, 1992) received his M.Sc. in Biomedical Engineering at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) in 2017. During his master’s, he worked on the development of molecular BRET-sensors for the detection of therapeutic antibodies in the Protein Engineering group of Prof. Dr. Maarten Merkx. An internship of six months was carried out at Janssen Infectious Diseases and Vaccines (pharmaceutical company of Johnson & Johnson), on the development of vaccine platforms to produce a universal influenza vaccine. Currently, he is working as a PhD candidate in the Bio-Organic chemistry group of Prof. Dr. Ir. Jan van Hest on protein-based nanocages as a delivery system for metabolic diseases.
Controlled drug delivery is a major problem in the treatment of many diseases. These problems include cellular uptake, bio-distribution, poor solubility and toxicity. One way to overcome these limitations is, for example, using nanoparticles (e.g. liposomes, polymersomes, micelles, inorganic nanoparticles, virus-like particles). By encapsulation of drugs, toxicity and poor-solubility can be reduced and functionalization is possible to improve cellular uptake.
Viruses can infect host cells with high efficiency and are therefore of scientific interest in drug delivery. Virus-like particles (VLPs), on the other hand, resemble viruses but lack genetic material making them non-infectious. These VLPs can be derived from protein expression systems, such as bacteria and plants. Moreover, VLPs are often biodegradable, biocompatible and can be easily modified due to the symmetrical structure of these particles.
A well-studied virus-like particle for the encapsulation of molecules is the capsid derived from the non-enveloped cowpea chlorotic mottle virus (CCMV). Although the CCMV VLPs are not stable at physiological conditions, we have been working in our group to develop a physiological stable CCMV. These physiological stable VLPs will be used to encapsulate drugs, target disease-causing cells and with that, we are aiming to treat metabolic diseases, in particular lysosomal storage diseases.