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  1. To overcome the challenge of lysosomal degradation of material in cells, we developed a carrier using chemical synthesis to successfully bypass the endosomal trap and deliver therapeutic materials directly into the cytoplasm of cells.

     
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 2, 2024
  2. Needle-and-syringe-based delivery has been the commercial standard for vaccine administration to date. With worsening medical personnel availability, increasing biohazard waste production, and the possibility of cross-contamination, we explore the possibility of biolistic delivery as an alternate skin-based delivery route. Delicate formulations like liposomes are inherently unsuitable for this delivery model as they are fragile biomaterials incapable of withstanding shear stress and are exceedingly difficult to formulate as a lyophilized powder for room temperature storage. Here we have developed a approach to deliver liposomes into the skin biolistically—by encapsulating them in a nano-sized shell made of Zeolitic Imidazolate Framework-8 (ZIF-8). When encapsulated within a crystalline and rigid coating, the liposomes are not only protected from thermal stress, but also shear stress. This protection from stressors is crucial, especially for formulations with cargo encapsulated inside the lumen of the liposomes. Moreover, the coating provides the liposomes with a solid exterior that allows the particles to penetrate the skin effectively. In this work, we explored the mechanical protection ZIF-8 provides to liposomes as a preliminary investigation for using biolistic delivery as an alternative to syringe-and-needle–based delivery of vaccines. We demonstrated that liposomes with a variety of surface charges could be coated with ZIF-8 using the right conditions, and this coating can be just as easily removed—without causing any damage to the protected material. The protective coating prevented the liposomes from leaking cargo and helped in their effective penetration when delivered into the agarose tissue model and porcine skin tissue.

     
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  3. Qβ VLP simplified assembly approach uses the positively charged Rev tag to interact electrostatically with the negatively charged RNAs. This system exploits the known hairpins produced in the coat protein sequence to template the assembly of the full viral capsid.

     
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 24, 2024
  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 25, 2024
  5. Abstract Background

    The paucity of SARS-CoV-2-specific virulence factors has greatly hampered the therapeutic management of patients with COVID-19 disease. Although available vaccines and approved therapies have shown tremendous benefits, the continuous emergence of new variants of SARS-CoV-2 and side effects of existing treatments continue to challenge therapy, necessitating the development of a novel effective therapy. We have previously shown that our developed novel single-stranded DNA aptamers not only target the trimer S protein of SARS-CoV-2, but also block the interaction between ACE2 receptors and trimer S protein of Wuhan origin, Delta, Delta plus, Alpha, Lambda, Mu, and Omicron variants of SARS-CoV-2. We herein performed in vivo experiments that administer the aptamer to the lungs by intubation as well as in vitro studies utilizing PBMCs to prove the efficacy and safety of our most effective aptamer, AYA2012004_L.

    Methods

    In vivo studies were conducted in transgenic mice expressing human ACE2 (K18hACE2), C57BL/6J, and Balb/cJ. Flow cytometry was used to check S-protein expressing pseudo-virus-like particles (VLP) uptake by the lung cells and test the immuogenicity of AYA2012004_L. Ames test was used to assess mutagenicity of AYA2012004_L. RT-PCR and histopathology were used to determine the biodistribution and toxicity of AYA2012004_L in vital organs of mice.

    Results

    We measured the in vivo uptake of VLPs by lung cells by detecting GFP signal using flow cytometry. AYA2012004_L specifically neutralized VLP uptake and also showed no inflammatory response in mice lungs. In addition, AYA2012004_L did not induce inflammatory response in the lungs of Th1 and Th2 mouse models as well as human PBMCs. AYA2012004_L was detectable in mice lungs and noticeable in insignificant amounts in other vital organs. Accumulation of AYA2012004_L in organs decreased over time. AYA2012004_L did not induce degenerative signs in tissues as seen by histopathology and did not cause changes in the body weight of mice. Ames test also certified that AYA2012004_L is non-mutagenic and proved it to be safe for in vivo studies.

    Conclusions

    Our aptamer is safe, effective, and can neutralize the uptake of VLPs by lung cells when administered locally suggesting that it can be used as a potential therapeutic agent for COVID-19 management.

     
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  6. We can alter the release kinetics of highly stabilized biomacromolecules in both skin and plant tissues to allow for either instant release or slow release simply by changing the typeof gas used in a pneumatic delivery jet.

     
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  7. null (Ed.)
    Abstract Virus-like particles are an emerging class of nano-biotechnology with the Tobacco Mosaic Virus (TMV) having found a wide range of applications in imaging, drug delivery, and vaccine development. TMV is typically produced in planta , and, as an RNA virus, is highly susceptible to natural mutation that may impact its properties. Over the course of 2 years, from 2018 until 2020, our laboratory followed a spontaneous point mutation in the TMV coat protein—first observed as a 30 Da difference in electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI–MS). The mutation would have been difficult to notice by electrophoretic mobility in agarose or SDS-PAGE and does not alter viral morphology as assessed by transmission electron microscopy. The mutation responsible for the 30 Da difference between the wild-type (wTMV) and mutant (mTMV) coat proteins was identified by a bottom-up proteomic approach as a change from glycine to serine at position 155 based on collision-induced dissociation data. Since residue 155 is located on the outer surface of the TMV rod, it is feasible that the mutation alters TMV surface chemistry. However, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays found no difference in binding between mTMV and wTMV. Functionalization of a nearby residue, tyrosine 139, with diazonium salt, also appears unaffected. Overall, this study highlights the necessity of standard workflows to quality-control viral stocks. We suggest that ESI–MS is a straightforward and low-cost way to identify emerging mutants in coat proteins. 
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