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An interdisciplinary team of Oxford University researchers has devised a new technique to speed up the development of novel vaccines.

Diagram of a viral vectored vaccine built using the SpyCatcher/ Tag combination. SpyCatcher (dark blue) is fused to the virus-like particle (purple). SpyTag (light blue) is fused to antigens (yellow). When SpyTag forms an isopeptide bond with SpyCatcher (diagram right), the antigens are attached to the virus-like particle. Nature Scientific Reports (Used under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License CC-BY)
Diagram of a viral vectored vaccine built using the SpyCatcher/ Tag combination. SpyCatcher (dark blue) is fused to the virus-like particle (purple). SpyTag (light blue) is fused to antigens (yellow). When SpyTag forms an isopeptide bond with SpyCatcher (diagram right), the antigens are attached to the virus-like particle.

Many vaccines are based around virus-like particles (VLPs). VLPs resemble viruses, but importantly don't carry pathogenic genetic material and thus cannot cause disease. These particles are engineered to display one part of a pathogen to the immune system, which can elicit strong protection upon any subsequent exposure to that pathogen.

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