Producing Vaccines against Enveloped Viruses in Plants: Making the Impossible, Difficult

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The past 30 years have seen the growth of plant molecular farming as an approach to the production of recombinant proteins for pharmaceutical and biotechnological uses. Much of this effort has focused on producing vaccine candidates against viral diseases, including those caused by enveloped viruses. These represent a particular challenge given the difficulties associated with expressing and purifying membrane-bound proteins and achieving correct assembly. Despite this, there have been notable successes both from a biochemical and a clinical perspective, with a number of clinical trials showing great promise. This review will explore the history and current status of plant-produced vaccine candidates against enveloped viruses to date, with a particular focus on virus-like particles (VLPs), which mimic authentic virus structures but do not contain infectious genetic material.