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Adv Drug Deliv Rev ; 188: 114416, 2022 Sep.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1914095


Lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) play an important role in mRNA vaccines against COVID-19. In addition, many preclinical and clinical studies, including the siRNA-LNP product, Onpattro®, highlight that LNPs unlock the potential of nucleic acid-based therapies and vaccines. To understand what is key to the success of LNPs, we need to understand the role of the building blocks that constitute them. In this Review, we discuss what each lipid component adds to the LNP delivery platform in terms of size, structure, stability, apparent pKa, nucleic acid encapsulation efficiency, cellular uptake, and endosomal escape. To explore this, we present findings from the liposome field as well as from landmark and recent articles in the LNP literature. We also discuss challenges and strategies related to in vitro/in vivo studies of LNPs based on fluorescence readouts, immunogenicity/reactogenicity, and LNP delivery beyond the liver. How these fundamental challenges are pursued, including what lipid components are added and combined, will likely determine the scope of LNP-based gene therapies and vaccines for treating various diseases.

COVID-19 , Nanoparticles , Nucleic Acids , Vaccines , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19 Vaccines , Genetic Therapy , Humans , Lipids/chemistry , Liposomes , Nanoparticles/chemistry , RNA, Small Interfering/chemistry , RNA, Small Interfering/genetics
Int J Pharm ; 601: 120586, 2021 May 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1174311


A drawback of the current mRNA-lipid nanoparticle (LNP) COVID-19 vaccines is that they have to be stored at (ultra)low temperatures. Understanding the root cause of the instability of these vaccines may help to rationally improve mRNA-LNP product stability and thereby ease the temperature conditions for storage. In this review we discuss proposed structures of mRNA-LNPs, factors that impact mRNA-LNP stability and strategies to optimize mRNA-LNP product stability. Analysis of mRNA-LNP structures reveals that mRNA, the ionizable cationic lipid and water are present in the LNP core. The neutral helper lipids are mainly positioned in the outer, encapsulating, wall. mRNA hydrolysis is the determining factor for mRNA-LNP instability. It is currently unclear how water in the LNP core interacts with the mRNA and to what extent the degradation prone sites of mRNA are protected through a coat of ionizable cationic lipids. To improve the stability of mRNA-LNP vaccines, optimization of the mRNA nucleotide composition should be prioritized. Secondly, a better understanding of the milieu the mRNA is exposed to in the core of LNPs may help to rationalize adjustments to the LNP structure to preserve mRNA integrity. Moreover, drying techniques, such as lyophilization, are promising options still to be explored.

COVID-19 , Nanoparticles , COVID-19 Vaccines , Humans , Lipids , RNA, Messenger , RNA, Small Interfering , SARS-CoV-2
Nanoscale ; 12(47): 23959-23966, 2020 Dec 21.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-947558


Lipid nanoparticle (LNP) formulations of nucleic acid are leading vaccine candidates for COVID-19, and enabled the first approved RNAi therapeutic, Onpattro. LNPs are composed of ionizable cationic lipids, phosphatidylcholine, cholesterol, and polyethylene glycol (PEG)-lipids, and are produced using rapid-mixing techniques. These procedures involve dissolution of the lipid components in an organic phase and the nucleic acid in an acidic aqueous buffer (pH 4). These solutions are then combined using a continuous mixing device such as a T-mixer or microfluidic device. In this mixing step, particle formation and nucleic acid entrapment occur. Previous work from our group has shown that, in the absence of nucleic acid, the particles formed at pH 4 are vesicular in structure, a portion of these particles are converted to electron-dense structures in the presence of nucleic acid, and the proportion of electron-dense structures increases with nucleic acid content. What remained unclear from previous work was the mechanism by which vesicles form electron-dense structures. In this study, we use cryogenic transmission electron microscopy and dynamic light scattering to show that efficient siRNA entrapment occurs in the absence of ethanol (contrary to the established paradigm), and suggest that nucleic acid entrapment occurs through inversion of preformed vesicles. We also leverage this phenomenon to show that specialized mixers are not required for siRNA entrapment, and that preformed particles at pH 4 can be used for in vitro transfection.

COVID-19 , Lab-On-A-Chip Devices , Lipids , Nanoparticles , RNA, Small Interfering , SARS-CoV-2 , Animals , Cell Line , Hydrogen-Ion Concentration , Lipids/chemistry , Lipids/pharmacology , Mice , Nanoparticles/chemistry , Nanoparticles/therapeutic use , RNA, Small Interfering/chemistry , RNA, Small Interfering/pharmacology