Lipid nanoparticles for mRNA delivery

Nat Rev Mater. 2021;6(12):1078-1094. doi: 10.1038/s41578-021-00358-0. Epub 2021 Aug 10.


Messenger RNA (mRNA) has emerged as a new category of therapeutic agent to prevent and treat various diseases. To function in vivo, mRNA requires safe, effective and stable delivery systems that protect the nucleic acid from degradation and that allow cellular uptake and mRNA release. Lipid nanoparticles have successfully entered the clinic for the delivery of mRNA; in particular, lipid nanoparticle-mRNA vaccines are now in clinical use against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which marks a milestone for mRNA therapeutics. In this Review, we discuss the design of lipid nanoparticles for mRNA delivery and examine physiological barriers and possible administration routes for lipid nanoparticle-mRNA systems. We then consider key points for the clinical translation of lipid nanoparticle-mRNA formulations, including good manufacturing practice, stability, storage and safety, and highlight preclinical and clinical studies of lipid nanoparticle-mRNA therapeutics for infectious diseases, cancer and genetic disorders. Finally, we give an outlook to future possibilities and remaining challenges for this promising technology.

Keywords: Drug delivery; Drug development.

Publication types

  • Review