A number of pharmaceutical companies have RNA-based therapeutics and vaccines in development for COVID-19. However, there are a number of safety concerns around the use of viral vectors with these therapies and the use of lipid-based nanoparticles may offer a safer alternative, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
Kathryn Whitney, MSc, Director of Thematic Analysis, comments: “RNA has received considerable research attention in recent years and has the potential to develop new treatments against COVID-19. Companies such as Moderna, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and Vir Biotechnology are currently exploring the use of these nanoparticles in RNA-based vaccines and therapeutics against COVID-19.”
Viral vectors are one of the major vehicles in RNA therapy, but concerns about immunogenicity, insertional mutagenesis and biohazards exist.
Whitney continues: “Non-viral methods such as the use of nanoparticles may offer a safer alternative. Lipid nanoparticles have been shown to be highly effective nanomaterials for the delivery of RNA therapies and vaccines.”
An enhanced permeability and retention (EPR) effect allows nanoparticles to accumulate at the site of disease or infection at much higher concentrations than in healthy tissue. They have a higher transportation efficiency across cell membranes and can avoid excretion due to their size and surface coating.
Whitney adds: “Nanoparticles can protect RNA molecules from enzymatic degradation and recognition by the immune system.”