Vaccine Efficacy

Subunit vaccines are a key strategy for preventing infectious disease and related deaths, but their efficacy suffers from poor immune responses. David A. Putnam, Biomedical Engineering, is determining how engaging the innate immune system can help guide the adaptive immune system to create pathogen-matched and protective immune responses against both viral and bacterial pathogens.

Putnam, along with Cynthia A. Leifer, Microbiology and Immunology, Matthew P. DeLisa, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and Avery August, Microbiology and Immunology, has engineered a new, flexible, pathogen-mimicking recombinant outer membrane vesicle (rOMV) platform. This platform is capable of presenting functional antigen with the desired combinations of adjuvants.

Putnam’s group is using innovative technology to investigate how different adjuvant combinations engage the innate immune system and help direct the immune response against viral and bacterial pathogens. They are identifying the molecular pathways elicited by individual or combinations of adjuvants on rOMVs. They are determining how rOMV-adjuvant combinations direct the adaptive immune response to immunization and whether tailored rOMV adjuvant combinations can direct specific anti-viral and anti-bacterial protective immunity.

The anticipated outcome is a mechanistic understanding of how adjuvant combinations work at the molecular, cellular, and organismal level to protect against viral and bacterial pathogens. This will help to define a set of guiding principles that Putnam and other investigators in the field can use to more robustly design adjuvant systems for maximizing the efficacy of subunit vaccines.

NIH Award Number: 1R01AI139664-01

Cornell Researchers

Funding Received

$2.9 Million spanning 5 years