The Hormel Institute scientist Vijay Reddy, PhD, is the recipient of a year-long grant of nearly $140,000 from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), National Institutes of Health.

This project is in collaboration with Dr. Michael Barry’s team of researchers at Mayo Clinic. The research will explore designing and shielding adenoviruses, carrying SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, to evade the host’s immune system in order to reach the host’s cells.

Disarmed (modified) adenoviruses have been used as viral vectors to administer gene and cell therapies, and they have also been used in some of the vaccines that have been designed to protect patients from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease COVID-19. Before use, the harmful genetic code from the adenovirus is removed, and its capsid or shell is used as a “shipping container” of sorts to deliver specific genetic code containing instructions for the cell to perform a specific function that will ultimately allow the immune system to learn how to defeat the virus.

The Reddy lab will use cryo-EM to determine the structures of these shielded adenoviruses so researchers can learn even more about how they operate, thereby helping in the design of next-generation adenovirus vectors.