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Published on 13/06/2023
Latest since the approval of the mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines, the important role of lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) in drug delivery has been generally recognized. All LNPs approved so far consist to a significant extent (30-50%) of the natural lipid Cholesterol or its derivatives. The molar content of Cholesterol has tremendous influence on LNP size and shape, transfection efficiency, and expression levels of the protein(s) encoded by the transported mRNA.
Traditionally, Cholesterol – and even the one for Pharmacopoeia grades – is extracted from natural animal sources, preferably form lanolin (sheep’s wool grease). However, there are several risks associated products of animal origin, such as transmission of diseases like TSE, unwanted immune reactions, or fluctuating product quality.
The invention of synthetic strategies to derive Cholesterol from plant-extracted Phytosterols gave way to the bulk scale production of entirely animal-free excipient grade Cholesterol of high and consistent product quality in accordance with Pharmacopoeia requirements.
Effect of Cholesterol Content of Lipid Composition in mRNA-LNPs on the Protein Expression in the Injected Site and Liver After Local Administration in Mice; M. Kawaguchi, M. Noda, A. Ono, M. Kamiya, M. Matsumoto, M. Tsurumaru, S. Mizukami, H. Mukai, S. Kawakami; Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences 2023; 112: 1401-1410. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.xphs.2022.12.026
The role of lipid components in lipid nanoparticles for vaccines and gene therapy; C. Hald Albertsen, J. A. Kulkarni, D. Witzigmann, M. Lind, K. Petersson, J. B. Simonsen; Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews 2022; 188: 114416. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addr.2022.114416
Naturally-occurring cholesterol analogues in lipid nanoparticles induce polymorphic shape and enhance intracellular delivery of mRNA; S. Patel, N. Ashwanikumar, E. Robinson, Y. Xia, C. Mihai, J. P. Griffith, S. Hou, A. A. Esposito, T. Ketova, K. Welsher, J. L. Joyal, Ö. Almarsson, G. Sahay; Nature Communications 2020; 11: 983. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-14527-2
On the role of helper lipids in lipid nanoparticle formulations of siRNA; J. A. Kulkarni, D. Witzigmann, J. Leung, Y. Y. C. Tam, P. R. Cullis; Nanoscale 2019; 11: 21733-21739. https://doi.org/10.1039/C9NR09347H