“At the time we started this project, the first COVID-19 vaccines were just getting rolled out, and there was a lot of news about how they needed ultra-cold storage, and how that was a huge logistical challenge. Especially in low- and middle-income countries, it may not always be feasible to have that type of refrigeration infrastructure. So we started to look at whether we could make a thermostable COVID-19 vaccine using a liposome-based vaccine platform that we worked on previously,” says Lovell, Ph.D., SUNY Empire Innovation Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering in the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB.
The new study focuses on a liquid injection that consists of ingredients including water; specialized liposomes carrying a synthetically produced version of the spike protein of the COVID-19 virus; and a small amount of sugar, which helps to protect the formula during the freeze-drying process.
The freeze-dried product looks a bit like cotton candy, mint green in color. On dehydration, the formula was stable at elevated temperatures, and it can withstand room temperatures and even higher temperatures for at least a week.
After that, researchers reconstituted the formula by adding water. When we tested this in mice, it induced effective antibody responses and offered protection against the COVID-19 virus.
The specialized liposomes examined in this study are being researched for potential use in vaccines against multiple diseases.