Repurposing viruses- from disease causing agents to therapeutic agents

The ACGT hosted a webinar on “Nano-Engineering Gone Viral: Plant Virus-Based Therapies” presented by Prof Nicole Steinmetz from the University of California, San Diego. The webinar, held on the 3rd of November 2020, was part of the ACGT series of webinars introduced due to Covid-19 restricting physical meetings.

Prof Nicole Steinmetz

Prof Steinmetz’s interest in plant virus-based nanotechnology has been a lifelong academic interest of hers. She has been researching the field since her postgraduate years. The presentation took the audience on a journey of on how engineering plant viruses can be utilized for plant and human health. Prof Steinmetz highlighted that plant viruses (as a biologic material) offer high precision compared to synthetic systems which makes them an ideal therapeutic agent. The presentation then explored different applications of the technology which included molecular imaging to aid risk stratification, delivery of therapies, targeting plant health (pesticide delivery), and immunotherapy and vaccines.

Prof Steinmetz stated that “plant virus-based technologies could be produced ‘in the region for the region’ in developing countries lacking a conventional refrigeration system and health infrastructure, toward low-cost and edible therapeutics.” The “region for the region” concept could be realised with institutions such as the CSIR, who are active in this field, and others in the country engaging in collaborative efforts with local and international researchers such as Prof Steinmetz to produce region specific plant-based technologies.

The Centre has extended a research visit to Prof Steinmetz and are hopeful that she can visit the partnership as soon as travel restrictions allow.

To view the full webinar, please click here.

Story by: the ACGT