The use of hybrid virus-like particles to enhance the immunogenicity of a broadly protective HPV vaccine.
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Virus-like particles (VLPs) can serve as a highly immunogenic vaccine platform for the multivalent display of epitopes from pathogens. We have used bacteriophage VLPs to develop vaccines that target a highly conserved epitope from the human papillomavirus (HPV) minor capsid protein, L2.VLPs displaying an L2-peptide from HPV16 elicit antibodies that broadly neutralize infection by HPV types associated with the development of cervical cancer. To broaden the cross-neutralization further, we have developed a strategy to display two different peptides on a single, hybrid VLP in a multivalent, highly immunogenic fashion. In general, hybrid VLPs elicited high-titer antibody responses against both targets, although in one case we observed an immunodominant response against only one of the displayed epitopes. Immunization with hybrid particles elicited antibodies that were able to neutralize heterologous HPV types at higher titers than those elicited by particles displaying one epitope alone, indicating that the hybrid VLP approach may be an effective technique to target epitopes that undergo antigenic variation.© 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.