Making mRNA Treatments More Effective

May 2021

Messenger RNA (mRNA) is at the heart of the world’s most effective anti-corona vaccines and has also shown great promise in combatting cancer and other diseases. Now scientists at Germany’s Research Center Jülich, working with pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, have discovered how it can be better administered under the skin.

The researchers say their goal is to allow patients to self-administer the medication. This would be very useful, for instance, to people recovering from heart attacks and strokes. The technique also helps prevent mRNA from being dissolved by enzymes before it reaches the cells where it can work most effectively. The key is a packaging system involving so-called lipid nanoparticles (LNP), tiny vesicles made of a mixture of fat-like substances.

The problem with this procedure has been that it causes inflammation. But the Jülich and AstraZeneca researchers have come up with new low-inflammation LNP variants.

“Incorporating an anti-inflammatory component into LNP greatly simplifies the therapy and may open it up to other treatments,” Dr. Marianna Yanez Arteta – associate principal scientist in advanced drug delivery at AstraZeneca – stated on the Jülich Center website.

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