IJPPP Copyright © 2009-All rights reserved. Published by e-Century Publishing Corporation, Madison, WI 53711
Int J Physiol Pathophysiol Pharmacol 2010;2(2):161-178

Review Article
Viral nanoparticles as macromolecular devices for new therapeutic  and
pharmaceutical approachesm

Simone Grasso, Luca Santi

Department of Biology, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy

Received May 25, 2010, accepted June 22, 2010, available online June 30, 2010

Abstract: Viral nanoparticles are molecular cages derived from the assembly of viral structural proteins. They bear several peculiar
features as proper dimensions for nanoscale applications: size homogeneity, an intrinsic robustness, a large surface area to mass
ratio and a defined, repetitive and symmetric macromolecular organization. A number of expression strategies, using various biological
systems, efficiently enable the production of significant quantities of viral nanoparticles, which can be easily purified. . Genetic
engineering and in vitro chemical modification  allow manipulation ofthe outer and inner surface of these nanocages,  which
allowsspecific changes of the original physicochemical and biological properties. Moreover, several studies have focused on the in
vitro disassembly/reassembly and gating of viral nanoparticles, with the aim of encapsulating exogenous molecules inside and
therefore improving their potential as containment delivery devices. These technological progresses have led research to a growing
variety of applications in different fields such as biomedicine, pharmacology, separation science, catalytic chemistry, crop pest control
and material science. In this review we will focus on the strategies used to modify the characteristics of viral nanoparticles and on their
use in biomedicine and pharmacology. (IJPPP1006002).

Key words: Nanoparticle, virus particle, virus like particle, protein cage, nanotechnology, nanodevice

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Address all correspondence to:
Luca Santi, PhD
Plant Virology and Biotechnology
University of Rome "Tor Vergata", School of Science
Department of Biology, Via della Ricerca Scientifica 00133
Roma, Italy.
Tel: +39-06-72594219
Fax: +39-06-72594263