. Scientific Frontline: Pharmaceutical
Showing posts with label Pharmaceutical. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pharmaceutical. Show all posts

Friday, February 3, 2023

Antibody possible treatment for severe fatty liver disease

Micrograph of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Masson's trichrome & Verhoeff stain. The liver has a prominent (centrilobular) macrovesicular steatosis (white/clear round/oval spaces) and mild fibrosis (green). The hepatocytes stain red.  Macrovesicular steatosis is lipid accumulation that is so large it distorts the cell's nucleus.
Image Credit: Nephron CC BY-SA 3.0

There is currently no drug for treating non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which affects many people with type 2 diabetes and which can result in other serious liver diseases. A study led by researchers from Karolinska Institutet has now identified a drug candidate for the treatment of fatty liver. The preclinical study, published in the Journal of Hepatology, indicates that an antibody that blocks the protein VEGF-B presents a possible therapeutic option for fatty liver disease.

“Fatty liver is associated with several serious and sometimes fatal diseases,” says the study’s first author Annelie Falkevall, researcher at the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden. “With the therapeutic principle that we’ve developed, it might be possible to prevent fatty liver and hopefully lower the risk of liver failure and terminal liver cancer.”

For decades, obesity and overweight have been a common global disease that, amongst other problems, has caused a sharp rise in the incidence of type 2 diabetes. According to the Swedish Diabetes Association, there are 500,000 cases of diabetes in Sweden alone, of which 85 to 90 percent are type 2.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Common heart medicine is linked to a reduced risk of committing violent crimes

Yasmina Molero.
Photo Credit: Niklas Faye-Wevle Samuelson

Beta blockers, commonly used to treat heart disease and high blood pressure, can be linked to a reduced risk of committing violent crimes. It shows a new registry study from Karolinska Institutet and the University of Oxford published in the journal PLOS Medicine.

Beta blockers lower blood pressure by blocking the effect of hormones like adrenaline. The medicine is used to treat a variety of conditions including high blood pressure, cardiovascular events, heart failure and anxiety. It has also been suggested to work for clinical depression and aggression, but some studies have found a link to increased suicidal tendencies and the results are contradictory.

In the current study, the researchers investigated the relationship between beta blockers and hospitalization for mental illness, suicidal tendencies, suicide and reports of violent crime. They studied 1.4 million individuals in Sweden and compared periods with and without beta blockers in the same individual over an eight-year period (2006-2013). In this way, the researchers were able to control factors that can affect relationships, such as genetics or disease history.

Periods of medication were associated with a 13 percent lower risk of being charged with violent crime. Since it is an observational study, conclusions about causation should be interpreted with caution.

One way to deal with aggression

- If the results are confirmed in other studies, including randomized controlled trials, beta blocks may be considered as a way to manage aggression in individuals with psychiatric diagnoses, say Yasmina Molero, researchers at Department of Clinical Neuroscience and Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Karolinska Institutet.

Use of beta-blockers was also linked to eight percent lower risk of hospitalization due to mental illness and eight percent increased risk of being treated for suicidal tendencies or dying in suicide. However, these relationships were inconsistent.

- The risk of hospitalization and suicidal tendencies varied depending on psychiatric diagnosis and previous mental health problems, but also on the severity and type of heart problems that the beta blockers were used to treat. This indicates that there are no links between beta blockers and these outcomes, says Yasmina Molero.

Heart problems are associated with depression

Previous research has linked serious heart events to an increased risk of depression and suicide. This may indicate that the mental disorders and other disabilities associated with serious heart problems, rather than the treatment with beta blockers, increase the risk of serious mental illness, according to the researchers.

Funding: The study was funded by the Wellcome Trust, Forte, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Karolinska Institutet's funds. Co-author Henrik Larsson has received grants from Shire Pharmaceuticals, Medice Speaker Fees, Shire / Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Evolan Pharma as well as sponsorship for a conference on adhd from Shire / Takeda Pharmaceuticals, all outside the current study.

Published in journalPLOS Medicine

Source/CreditKarolinska Institutet

Reference Number: ns013123_02

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Monday, January 30, 2023

Marburg vaccine shows promising results in first-in-human study

Colorized scanning electron micrograph of Marburg virus particles (blue) both budding and attached to the surface of infected VERO E6 cells (orange).
Image Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

A newly published paper in The Lancet shows that an experimental vaccine against Marburg virus (MARV) was safe and induced an immune response in a small, first-in-human clinical trial. The vaccine, developed by researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, could someday be an important tool to respond to Marburg virus outbreaks.

This first-in-human, Phase 1 study tested an experimental MARV vaccine candidate, known as cAd3-Marburg, which was developed at NIAID’s Vaccine Research Center (VRC). This vaccine uses a modified chimpanzee adenovirus called cAd3, which can no longer replicate or infect cells, and displays a glycoprotein found on the surface of MARV to induce immune responses against the virus. The cAd3 vaccine platform demonstrated a good safety profile in prior clinical trials when used in investigational Ebola virus and Sudan virus vaccines developed by the VRC.

Researchers revisit potent drug as promising treatment for acute leukemia

Photo Credit: Louis Reed

The two-pronged attack of a “forgotten drug” simultaneously targets two cancer-causing pathways of leukemia to stop the disease in its tracks

A team of researchers from the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore (CSI Singapore) at the National University of Singapore, led by Associate Professor Takaomi Sanda and Dr Lim Fang Qi, has breathed new life into an existing drug — combatting a type of blood cancer called T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or T-ALL.

The drug, called PIK-75, was initially discovered over a decade ago but was dismissed in favor of newer ones. Now, it has made a comeback that deems it unmissable — the researchers established that the drug could block not just one but two crucial cancer-causing pathways of T-ALL, enabling them to develop new treatments that could effectively stem the disease.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Scientists Suggest New Approach to Targeted Treatment of Bacterial Infections

Photo Source: Ural Federal University

It is based on the nanosystem with polyoxometalate

Chemists from the Ural Federal University have proposed a new approach to targeted treatment of affected areas of the human body, in particular, bacterial infections. It is based on a nanosystem, the core of which is polyoxometalate (containing molybdenum and iron). A broad-spectrum antibiotic, tetracycline, is attached to the surface of the polyoxometalate. This approach makes it possible to fight bacteria more effectively by targeting them. The results of the study are published in the journal Inorganics.

"The polyoxometalate ion is a charged nanoparticle that can be used as a base. It is very small - 2.5 nanometers. This allows it to easily penetrate cells and the walls of blood vessels. Drugs and additional substances (vector molecules) can be "planted" on it to help the system reach a specific affected organ. In this case, the drug is distributed less throughout the rest of the body. This reduces side effects, especially of highly toxic drugs," explains Margarita Tonkushina, a Researcher at the Section of Chemical Material Science and the Laboratory of Functional Design of Nanoclusters of Polyoxometalates at UrFU.

Monday, January 16, 2023

Mucosal antibodies in the airways provide durable protection against SARS-CoV-2

Charlotte Thålin, M.D. and associate professor at the Department of Clinical Sciences, Danderyd Hospital
Photo Credit: Ludvig Kostyal

Researchers hope that a nasal vaccine may generate mucosal immune responses that protect against SARS-CoV-2 infection.

High levels of mucosal IgA antibodies in the airways protect against SARS-CoV-2 infection for at least eight months. Omicron infection generates durable mucosal antibodies, reducing the risk of re-infection. These are the findings of a study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases by researchers at Karolinska Institutet and Danderyd Hospital in Sweden. The results raise further hope for the feasibility of future nasal vaccine platforms to protect against infection.

“Antibodies in the blood protect from severe disease, but if we aim to limit infection, viral transmission and the emergence of new SARS-CoV-2 variants, we need to reinforce our immunity at the mucosal surface, which is the viral point of entry”, says Charlotte Thålin, M.D. and associate professor at the Department of Clinical Sciences, Danderyd Hospital, Karolinska Institutet who led the study. “This is not achieved by currently employed intramuscularly-delivered vaccines. But the hope is that a nasal vaccine may generate mucosal immune responses similar to those seen after infection, and thereby block the transmission chain”.

Thursday, January 5, 2023

Ludwig Cancer Research study uncovers novel aspect of tumor evolution and potential targets for therapy

 Ping-Chih Ho, Ludwig Lausanne Associate Member
Photo Credit: Ludwig Cancer Research

A Ludwig Cancer Research study has discovered that the immune system’s surveillance of cancer can itself induce metabolic adaptations in the cells of early-stage tumors that simultaneously promote their growth and equip them to suppress lethal immune responses.

Led by Ludwig Lausanne Associate Member Ping-Chih Ho and published in Cell Metabolism, the study details the precise mechanism by which this “immunometabolic editing” of emergent tumors occurs in mouse models of the skin cancer melanoma and identifies a novel biochemical signaling cascade and proteins that orchestrate its effects. Aside from illuminating a previously unknown dimension of tumor evolution, the findings hold significant promise for improving the efficacy of cancer immunotherapy.

“We have uncovered dozens of metabolic enzymes that contribute to immune evasion in melanoma tumors,” said Ho. “These enzymes, as well as some of the individual components of the signaling pathway we’ve identified, represent a rich trove of potential drug targets to undermine the defenses erected by immunometabolic editing. Such drugs could make tumors vulnerable to immune clearance and could also be used in combination with checkpoint blockade and other immunotherapies to overcome the resistance most cancers have to such treatments.”

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Developing antibiotics that target multiple-drug-resistant bacteria

The sphaerimicin analogs (SPMs) inhibit the activity of MraY, and hence the replication of bacteria, with different degrees of effectiveness. The potency of the analog increases as the IC50 decrease Illustration Credit: Takeshi Nakaya, et al. Nature Communications. December 20, 2022

Researchers have designed and synthesized analogs of a new antibiotic that is effective against multidrug-resistant bacteria, opening a new front in the fight against these infections.

Antibiotics are vital drugs in the treatment of a number of bacterial diseases. However, due to continuing overuse and misuse, the number of bacteria strains that are resistant to multiple antibiotics is increasing, affecting millions of people worldwide. The development of new antibacterial compounds that target multiple drug resistant bacteria is also an active field of research so that this growing issue can be controlled.

A team led by Professor Satoshi Ichikawa at Hokkaido University has been working on the development of new antibacterial. Their most recent research, published in the journal Nature Communications, details the development of a highly effective antibacterial compound that is effective against the most common multidrug-resistant bacteria.

Monday, December 12, 2022

Studies find Omicron related hospitalizations lower in severity than Delta and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine remains effective in preventing hospitalizations

Photo Credit: Fernando Zhiminaicela

Adult hospitalizations from Omicron-related SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) were less severe than Delta and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine (also known as Comirnaty and BNT162b2*) remains effective in preventing not only hospitalization, but severe patient outcomes associated with COVID-19, two new research studies have found.

The University of Bristol-led research, funded and conducted in collaboration with Pfizer Inc., as part of AvonCAP, is published in The Lancet Regional Health – Europe.

AvonCAP records adults who are admitted to Bristol’s two hospital Trusts – North Bristol NHS Trust (NBT) and University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust (UHBW) with possible respiratory infection.

In the first paper ‘Severity of Omicron (B.1.1.529) and Delta (B.1.617.2) SARS-CoV-2 infection among hospitalized adults: a prospective cohort study in Bristol, United Kingdom’ researchers assessed whether Delta SARS-CoV-2 infection resulted in worse patient outcomes than Omicron SARS-CoV-2 infection, in hospitalized patients

The study aimed to provide more detailed data on patient outcomes, such as the need for respiratory support.

Scientists Have Created New Substance to Treat Neurological Disorders

Scientists used a set of 1,2,3-triazole derivatives and modeled the structure of the putative inhibitor.
 Photo Credit: Andrey Fomin

The international team of scientists, including chemists from the Ural Federal University, has developed a substance that may become the basis for drugs that suppress or alleviate a number of neurological disorders. These include, for example, psychosis, schizophrenia, Parkinson's and Huntington's diseases, etc. The scientists reported the development and first results of the study in the Journal of Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics. The study was supported by a grant from the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation (Project No. 075-15-2020-777).

"We found that the enzyme Phosphodiesterase 10A, which is produced in the body, is directly linked to neurological disorders. If you inhibit this enzyme, you can significantly slow down or even suppress the disease. For this purpose, we used a set of derivatives of 1,2,3-triazole, a pharmacophore whose fragments are contained in many drugs, and modeled the structure of the putative TP-10 inhibitor. We hypothesize that it would have a positive effect on conditions associated with brain dysfunction by reducing the activity of the Phosphodiesterase 10A enzyme. Other inhibitors developed by foreign companies still have no reliable antipsychotic efficacy so far," notes Dhananjay Bhattacherjee, senior researcher at the Department of Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry at UrFU.

Monday, December 5, 2022

Scientists invent pioneering technique to construct rare molecules

Bahamaolide A is a polyketide natural product with potent antifungal activity, which was isolated from bacteria cultured from a sediment sample collected at North Cat Cay in the Bahamas and has now been synthesized in the chemical laboratory for the first time.
Image Credit: University of Bristol and Wikimedia Commons

Scientists have created a much faster way to make certain complex molecules, which are widely used by pharmaceuticals for antibiotics and anti-fungal medicines.

The first-of-its-kind discovery by chemists at the University of Bristol has the potential to speed up the production of such drugs, making them cheaper and more accessible.

The breakthrough, published in Nature Chemistry, marks the culmination of a five-year research project which has finally cracked how to reconstruct in a laboratory a particularly complex molecule, from the family of molecules known as polyketides.

Lead author Sheenagh Aiken, a PhD student at the university’s School of Chemistry when the work was completed, said: “It’s an exciting discovery, which could bring important benefits for the pharmaceutical industry and public health.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Experimental COVID-19 Vaccine Offers Long-Term Protection Against Severe Disease

A study involving rhesus macaques at the California National Primate Research Center shows that COVID-19 vaccines given to infant animals protect against lung disease one year after vaccination.
 Photo Credit: CNPRC

Two-dose vaccines provide protection against lung disease in rhesus macaques one year after they were vaccinated as infants, a new study shows. The work, published in Science Translational Medicine Dec. 1, is a follow-up to a 2021 studying showing that the Moderna mRNA vaccine and a protein-based vaccine candidate containing an adjuvant, a substance that enhances immune responses, elicited durable neutralizing antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 during infancy in preclinical research.

The co-senior authors of the paper are Kristina De Paris, professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Sallie Permar, professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medicine; and Koen K.A. Van Rompay, leader of the Infectious Disease Unit at the California National Primate Research at the University of California, Davis. Co-first authors are Emma C. Milligan at the Children’s Research Institute, UNC School of Medicine; and Katherine Olstad at the CNPRC.

To evaluate SARS-CoV-2 infant vaccination, the researchers immunized two groups of eight infant rhesus macaques at the CNPRC at 2 months of age and again four weeks later. Each animal received one of two vaccine types: a preclinical version of the Moderna mRNA vaccine or a vaccine combining a protein developed by the Vaccine Research Center of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), with a potent adjuvant formulation. Consisting of 3M’s molecular adjuvant 3M-052 formulated in a squalene emulsion by the Access to Advanced Health Institute (AAHI), the adjuvant formulation stimulates immune responses by engaging receptors on immune cells.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Blood thinning drug to treat recovery from severe COVID-19 is not effective


The HEAL-COVID trial (Helping to Alleviate the Longer-term consequences of COVID-19) is funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) and the Cambridge NIHR Biomedical Research Centre. To date, more than a thousand NHS patients hospitalized with COVID have taken part in HEAL-COVID, a platform trial that is aiming to find treatments to reduce the number who die or are readmitted following their time in hospital.

In these first results from HEAL-COVID, it’s been shown that prescribing the oral anticoagulant Apixaban does not stop COVID patients from later dying or being readmitted to hospital over the following year (Apixaban 29.1%, versus standard care 30.8%).

As well as not being beneficial, anticoagulant therapy has known serious side effects, and these were experienced by participants in the trial with a small number of the 402 participants receiving Apixaban having major bleeding that required them to discontinue the treatment.

There was also no benefit from Apixaban in terms of the number of days alive and out of hospital at day 60 after randomization (Apixaban 59 days, versus standard care 59 days).

Following these results, the trial will continue to test another drug called Atorvastatin, a widely used lipid lowering drug (‘a statin’) that acts on other mechanisms of disease that are thought to be important in COVID.

Positive media coverage of cannabis studies regardless of therapeutic effect

Photo Credit: Julia Teichmann

In cannabis trials against pain, people who take placebos report feeling largely the same level of pain relief as those who consume the active cannabinoid substance. Still, these studies receive significant media coverage regardless of the clinical outcome, report researchers from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden in a study published in JAMA Network Open.

“We see that cannabis studies are often described in positive terms in the media regardless of their results,” says the study’s first author Filip Gedin, postdoc researcher at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet. “This is problematic and can influence expectations when it comes to the effects of cannabis therapy on pain. The greater the benefit a treatment is assumed to have, the more potential harms can be tolerated.”

The study is based on an analysis of published clinical studies in which cannabis has been compared with placebo for the treatment of clinical pain. The change in pain intensity before and after treatment were the study’s primary outcome measurement.

The analysis drew on 20 studies published up to September 2021 involving almost 1,500 individuals.

Friday, November 25, 2022

Protein Spheres Protect the Genome of Cancer Cells

MYC proteins are colored green in this figure. In normally growing cells, they are homogeneously distributed in the cell nucleus (left). In diverse stress situations, as they occur in cancer cells, they rearrange themselves, form sphere-like structures and thus surround particularly vulnerable sections of the genome.
Image Credit: Team Martin Eilers / Universität Würzburg

Hollow spheres made of MYC proteins open new doors in cancer research. Würzburg scientists have discovered them and report about this breakthrough in the journal "Nature".

MYC genes and their proteins play a central role in the emergence and development of almost all cancers. They drive uncontrolled growth and altered metabolism of tumor cells. And they help tumors hide from the immune system.

MYC proteins also show an activity that was previously unknown – and which is now opening new doors for cancer research: They form hollow spheres that protect particularly sensitive parts of the genome. If these MYC spheres are destroyed, cancer cells will die.

This was reported by a research team led by Martin Eilers and Elmar Wolf from the Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg (JMU, Bavaria, Germany) in the journal Nature. The researchers are convinced that their discovery is a game changer for cancer research, an important breakthrough on the way to new therapeutic strategies.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Major discovery about mammalian brains surprises researchers

Illustration shows vacuolar-type adenosine triphosphatases (V-ATPases, large blue structures) on a synaptic vesicle from a nerve cell in the mammalian brain.
Illustration Image: C. Kutzner, H. Grubmüller and R. Jahn/Max Planck Institute for Multidisciplinary Sciences.

Major discovery about mammalian brains surprises researchers, University of Copenhagen researchers have made an incredible discovery. Namely, a vital enzyme that enables brain signals is switching on/off at random, even taking hours-long “breaks from work”. These findings may have a major impact on our understanding of the brain and the development of pharmaceuticals. 

Millions of neurons are constantly messaging each other to shape thoughts and memories and let us move our bodies at will. When two neurons meet to exchange a message, neurotransmitters are transported from one neuron to another with the aid of a unique enzyme.

This process is crucial for neuronal communication and the survival of all complex organisms. Until now, researchers worldwide thought that these enzymes were active at all times to convey essential signals continuously. But this is far from the case.

Using a groundbreaking method, researchers from the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Chemistry have closely studied the enzyme and discovered that its activity is switching on and off at random intervals, which contradicts our previous understanding.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Covid-19: the Spike protein is no longer the only target

Possible mechanism of action of a drug targeting Nsp1 of SARS-CoV-2. In infected cells, Nsp1 blocks the ribosome mRNA canal by acting as a "cap" that prevents the expression of the host's mRNA. Linking a ligand to the proposed cryptic pocket highlighted in purple could prevent blockage mediated by Nsp1 and, ultimately, restore the ability of the ribosome to initiate the translation of the mRNA.
Photo Credit: UNIGE Alberto Borsatto

A research team led by the UNIGE reveals a hidden cavity on a key SARS-CoV-2 protein to which drugs could bind.

With the continuous emergence of new variants and the risk of new strains of the virus, the development of innovative therapies against SARS-CoV-2 remains a major public health challenge. Currently, the proteins that are on the surface of the virus and/or are involved in its replication are the preferred therapeutic targets, like the Spike protein targeted by vaccines. One of them, the non-structural protein Nsp1, had been studied little until now. A team from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), in collaboration with University College London (UCL) and the University of Barcelona, has now revealed the existence of a hidden ''pocket’ on its surface. A potential drug target, this cavity opens the way to the development of new treatments against Covid-19 and other coronaviruses. These results can be found in the journal eLife.

Friday, November 11, 2022

Probiotic ‘backpacks’ show promise for treating inflammatory bowel diseases

Probiotic bacteria (teal) coated in a layer of biomaterial as they travel through a human intestine. Attached to the bacteria are reactive oxygen species nano-scavengers.
Image Credit: Quanyin Hu

Like elite firefighters headed into the wilderness to combat an uncontrolled blaze, probiotic bacteria do a better job quelling gut inflammation when they’re equipped with the best gear.

A new study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison demonstrates just how much promise some well-equipped gut-friendly bacteria hold for improving treatments of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Led by Quanyin Hu, a biomedical engineer and professor in the UW–Madison School of Pharmacy, the research builds on technology the team had previously designed. That prior technology encases beneficial bacteria within a very thin protective shell to help them survive an onslaught of stomach acids and competing microbes long enough to establish and multiply in the guts of mice.

While the technology makes orally administered probiotics more effective, IBD is a complex disease that usually involves more than gut microbial communities that are out of whack.

“IBD is a complicated disease, and you need to attack it at different angles,” says Hu.

So, Hu and his colleagues devised specialized nanoparticles to neutralize molecules implicated in IBD. They’ve also figured out a way of attaching these nanoparticle “backpacks” to beneficial bacteria after encasing them in the protective coating.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Injections for diabetes, cancer could become unnecessary

Young woman injecting insulin
Photo Credit: Pavel Danilyuk

Researchers at UC Riverside are paving the way for diabetes and cancer patients to forget needles and injections, and instead take pills to manage their conditions.

Some drugs for these diseases dissolve in water, so transporting them through the intestines, which receive what we drink and eat, is not feasible. As a result, these drugs cannot be administered by mouth. However, UCR scientists have created a chemical “tag” that can be added to these drugs, allowing them to enter blood circulation via the intestines.

The details of how they found the tag, and demonstrations of its effectiveness, are described in a new Journal of the American Chemical Society paper.

The tag is composed of a small peptide, which is like a protein fragment. “Because they are relatively small molecules, you can chemically attach them to drugs, or other molecules of interest, and use them to deliver those drugs orally,” said Min Xue, UCR chemistry professor who led the research.

Xue’s laboratory was testing something unrelated when the researchers observed these peptides making their way into cells.

Efficient mRNA delivery by branched lipids

A cross-section of an LNP-RNA. The mRNA (red) is encapsulated by lipids (blue spheres with tails.
 Image Credit: Yusuke Sato

A novel branched lipid that has a high stability in storage and a high efficiency in the delivery of mRNA to cells has been developed.

Messenger RNA (mRNA) are biological molecules that transfer the information coded by genes in the nucleus to the cytoplasm for protein synthesis by ribosomes. mRNA sequences can be designed to encode specific proteins; the most well-known example of this are the mRNA vaccines for COVID-19. mRNA molecules are large and chemically unstable, so a vector must be utilized to deliver mRNA to the cells. One of the most advanced technologies for the delivery of mRNA are lipid nanoparticles (LNPs), which are composed of ionizable lipids, cholesterol, helper lipids and polyethylene glycol.

A team of researchers led by Assistant Professor Yusuke Sato and Professor Hideyoshi Harashima at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Hokkaido University, and by Kazuki Hashiba at the Nitto Denko Corporation have developed a novel branched ionizable lipid which, when included in LNPs, greatly increases the efficiency of mRNA delivery. Their results were published in the journal Small Science.

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