Therapeutic RNA Delivery for COVID and Other Diseases

Adv Healthc Mater. 2021 Aug;10(15):e2002022. doi: 10.1002/adhm.202002022. Epub 2021 Mar 4.


RNA can alter the expression of endogenous genes and can be used to express therapeutic proteins. As a result, RNA-based therapies have recently mitigated disease in patients. Yet most potential RNA therapies cannot currently be developed, in large part because delivering therapeutic quantities of RNA drugs to diseased cells remains difficult. Here, recent studies focused on the biological hurdles that make in vivo drug delivery challenging are described. Then RNA drugs that have overcome these challenges in humans, focusing on siRNA to treat liver disease and mRNA to vaccinate against COVID, are discussed. Finally, research centered on improving drug delivery to new tissues is highlighted, including the development of high-throughput in vivo nanoparticle DNA barcoding assays capable of testing over 100 distinct nanoparticles in a single animal.

Keywords: COVID; LNP; RNA therapy; in vivo delivery; vaccine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • COVID-19*
  • Drug Delivery Systems
  • Humans
  • Lipids
  • Nanoparticles*
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics
  • SARS-CoV-2


  • Lipids
  • RNA, Small Interfering