COVID-19 mRNA-based vaccines have exhibited the importance of lipid-nucleic acid nanoparticles. One critical aspect in the development of such formulations is understanding how many mRNA or DNA macromolecules are present per lipid nanoparticle. Researchers at INL – International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory led by Pieter De Beule and Bruno Silva have proposed a novel method that answers this very question. The work has been featured on the front cover of the January 2021 issue of the Journal of Biophotonics, with an illustration from Sandra Maya, also from INL.
The method consists of following the dynamics of lipids and DNA fluorescently labelled with two distinct dyes (red and green, respectively). By following the correlations between the motions of lipids and DNA the method can distinguish the cases where the lipid and DNA move together in the same particles, from those where lipid and DNA move freely and independently. Hence the number of DNA molecules per lipid nanoparticle is determined.
Understanding the number of DNA/mRNA molecules per particle is important as it influences potency, or if co-delivery of different therapeutic molecules is desired. This methodology can therefore become a powerful guide to the development of similar formulations and accelerate research and innovation in infectious diseases and cancer vaccines.
The full article can be found here: 2021 – Journal of Biophotonics – Wiley Online Library