VIRUS LIKE PARTICLES (VLPS) (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Sci and Tech)

News-CRUX-10     3rd June 2024        
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Context: Scientists at the Institute of Advanced Virology (IAV), Thonnakkal, Thiruvananthapuram, have developed a novel way of generating non-infectious Nipah virus-like particles (VLPs) in the laboratory, which mimic the wild type Nipah virus (NiV).

Virus Like Particles (VLPs):

  • About: They are molecules that closely resemble viruses, but are non-infectious because they contain no viral genetic material. They carry most of the characteristics of the virus, except their ability to replicate (because it lacks the viral genome). 

o They have long been recognised as effective quantitative platforms for studying viral binding and entry kinetics of the virus. 

  • The study: The new method offers an alternate, safe and effective platform for developing neutralizing antibodies against NiV.

Nipah Virus (NiV)

  • About: It is a zoonotic virus, meaning it can be transmitted from animals to humans.

o The zoonotic virus Nipah is a highly pathogenic paramyxovirus, with a fatality rate of up to 80% in affected humans.

  • Responsible: RNA virus belonging to the Paramyxoviridae family, Henipavirus genus, and is closely related to the Hendra virus.
  • Initial occurrence of the outbreak: Malaysia (1998) and Singapore (1999).

o The estimated case fatality rate for the Nipah Virus ranges from 40% to 75%, which can vary depending on the outbreak's local epidemiological surveillance and clinical management capabilities.

  • Spread: The virus can be transmitted to humans either through contact with infected animals, consumption of contaminated food, or through direct person-to-person transmission. 

o Fruit bats are recognized as the natural reservoir of the virus.

  • Symptoms: Acute encephalitis and respiratory illnesses
  • Prevention: Currently, there are no vaccines for both humans and animals.