Imaging Therapeutic Adeno-associated Viruses (AAVs)

May 1, 2020

Imaging viral capsids as they circulate through the body has the potential to inform strategies for gene therapy and for the treatment of emerging diseases.  In a paper appearing in Nature Communications, the MIPS research team reported a positron emission tomography (PET) method to image tiny engineered viruses known as adeno-associated viruses (AAVs). AAVs are used to deliver gene therapy and were tracked after systemic administration in mice.  The work demonstrated that engineered viruses can deliver large quantities of therapy (maximum of 35% of the injected dose per cubic centimeter) to the brain.  The enhanced delivery results from binding of the virus to receptors that are located on the lining of blood vessels in the brain. The results suggest that novel PET imaging techniques can be applied to inform and optimize capsid design. The research team is now planning to apply these techniques to track viral particles that mimic the features of SARS-CoV-2.