November 18, 2022 -- University of Kentucky researchers, in collaboration with the University of Arkansas and Clemson University, have received a $1.6 million National Science Foundation (NSF) Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) grant to create a membrane-based downstream purification platform for large-scale continuous biomanufacturing of viral vectors and virus-like particles (VLPs).
Viral vectors are tools commonly used by molecular biologists to deliver genetic material into cells; VLPs are self-assembled viral protein complexes that mimic the native virus's structure without being infectious.
The researchers' goal for the development of membrane-based downstream purification platforms is to overcome multiple technical and economic barriers. Their objectives include:
The grant's overall principal investigator is University of Arkansas professor Xianghong Qian. University of Kentucky faculty Dibakar Bhattacharyya, Barbara Knutson, Steve Rankin, Malgorzata Chwatko, and Rebecca Dutch are co-principal investigators.
"Besides their tremendous impact on human health, the economic impact of large molecule therapeutics is transforming the landscape of the biotechnology industry. For instance, there are a growing number of clinical trials using viral vectors for the delivery of gene therapies," noted Bhattacharyya in a statement.