+20 Years of Virus Research

Professor Holland Cheng and colleagues have investigated the process of viral assembly and nanocapsid formation for over 20 years. Having gone through so many viruses across the years, the stability of hepatitis E nanoparticles intrigued the team to develop medical applications.

Our Story

Alive and Pronounced

Research Areas​
Our research aims to understand the structure and function of macromolecular interactions by selected model macromolecular systems. Viral structural proteins have the capacity to function both in assembly and in disassembly, which is made possible through a built-in flexibility triggered by cellular events. We observe conformational changes of viral particles at various states of their life cycle to analyze their assembly intermediates as well as the mature forms. Similarly, infectious virions can be treated with numerous conditions, e.g. receptor-mediated genome release or acid-activated membrane fusion, to observe the key steps of viral re-entry into host cells. Using electron microscopy, we apply a rapid-frozen and low-dose imaging procedure to best preserve the biological specimen in its native form. Computer image processing is developed to retrieve most of the useful signal from the low-contrast micrographs. Technical implementation of cryo-EM, cellular tomography, and computational modeling schemes also enables us to address interactions involved in complex biological molecules and/or nanoscale machines.
Our Vision
Hepatitis E Virus NanoParticle (HEVNP) is a non-infectious nanocapsid which allows for encapsulation of various drugs, DNA, RNA, proteins, and even inorganic material within the hollow interior, while various short peptides & labeling molecules can be conjugated to its surface. The natural stability of HEVNP through the mucosa gives this platform the advantage for use of mucosal drug delivery. Our mission is to combat cancer and other diseases using a pain-free, self-administrable drug delivery system. For example, with the technological developments in cancer therapy, such as hyperthermia treatment, the HEVNP be used to entrap ferrite nanoparticles & be orally delievered to cancer-tissue-specific sites for an accurate delivery & treatment, without damaging the surrounding healthy tissue. Due to the stable nature of HEVNP, the administration could be as easy as drinking a cup of water!