DeLisa and Putnam labs team up against COVID-19
Updated: Feb 7, 2021
Collaboration seeks to adapt outer membrane vesicle (OMV) vaccine technology for targeting SARS-CoV-2 infection
David Putnam, Biomedical Engineering/Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and Matthew DeLisa, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, recently garnered $17.9 million from the National Institutes of Health to develop their idea for an ingenious new vaccine technology. Working with virologist Gary R. Whittaker, Microbiology and Immunology, Putnam and DeLisa are gunning for a universal, once-and-for-all, seasonal flu vaccine. As their flu vaccine progresses toward human trials, they are working to adapt the new platform for COVID-19. The new vaccine platform delivers immune-triggering antigens in packaging made from the outer membrane of bacteria. In fact, specially engineered bacteria actually manufacture the vaccine from their own cells. Certain bacteria have the peculiar habit of developing tiny blisters on their outer membranes that bud and break away, forming what are called outer membrane vesicles or OMVs. OMVs are not themselves bacteria, but they contain some fluid and other contents of the bacteria that made them—including, in this case, proteins from the SARS-CoV-2 virus that the bacteria will be engineered to mass produce.
To learn more, see the recent Cornell Research story: