Chemistry Goes Viral

Chemistry Goes Viral

Author: Jenna Pope

Using chemical techniques to modifying viral shells merges virology and nanotechnology into the new field of viral chemistry.

Viruses are ideal candidates for targeted drug delivery vehicles because they naturally transport and deliver delicate molecules to specific areas under specific circumstances. The payload is consistent from virus to virus, due to their natural monodispersity. Furthermore, viruses are biodegradable, making the systems both environmentally friendly and easier to filter out of the body after use. Viruses can be easily functionalized using amino acids present on the virus surface using ‘click’ chemistry. In fact, many ‘click’ conjugates are commercially available, allowing researchers without extensive background in synthetic chemistry to create functionalized viruses.

Polymers can also be attached to viruses by both grafting to and grafting from methods. Polymers attached to the exterior of viruses enhance biocompatibility and improve solubility and thermal stability. Polymers grafted inside of viruses create scaffolds for drug storage.

Thus far, chemically modified viruses have been examined as delivery vehicles for cancer drugs, vaccines for nicotine, and photosensitizers in photodynamic therapy.


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