▶ Microorganisms are inexpensive platforms to produce chimeric VLPs. ▶ Bacteriophage-derived VLPs are excellent structures for drug delivery. ▶ Microbial cell factories offer versatility and scalability for VLP production. ▶ Cell-free systems are technologies with potential but more development is needed. ▶ Neglected diseases will be treated with VLP technologies with profitable margin.
Vaccines based on virus-like particles have proved their success in human health. More than 25 years after the approval of the first vaccine based on this technology, the substantial efforts to expand the range of applications and target diseases are beginning to bear fruit. The incursion of high-throughput screening technologies, combined with new developments in protein engineering and chemical coupling, have accelerated the development of systems capable of producing macrostructures useful for vaccinology, gene delivery, immunotherapy and bionanotechnology. This review summarizes the most recent developments in microbial cell factories and cell-free systems for virus-like particle production and discusses the future impact of this technology in human and animal health.