Messenger RNAs (mRNAs) are biological molecules that transfer the information coded by genes in the nucleus to the cytoplasm for protein synthesis by ribosomes. mRNA sequences can be designed to encode specific proteins; the most well-known example of this are the mRNA vaccines for COVID-19. mRNA molecules are large and chemically unstable, so a vector must be utilized to deliver mRNA to the cells. One of the most advanced technologies for the delivery of mRNA are lipid nanoparticles (LNPs), which are composed of ionizable lipids, cholesterol, helper lipids, and polyethylene glycol. A team of researchers led by Assistant Professor Yusuke Sato and Professor Hideyoshi Harashima at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Hokkaido University, and by Kazuki Hashiba at the Nitto Denko Corporation have developed a novel branched ionizable lipid which, when included in LNPs, greatly increases the efficiency of mRNA delivery. Their results were published on November 9, 2022 in Small Science. The open-access article is titled “Branching Ionizable Lipids Can Enhance the Stability, Fusogenicity, and Functional Delivery of mRNA.
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