Making liposomal formulations for the delivery of RNA vaccines
A Dolomite Microfluidics’ set-up for high throughput cell encapsulation is helping researchers at the Department of Medicine at Imperial College, London, to develop novel liposomal formulations for RNA vaccines targeting diseases such as HIV, influenza, rabies and chlamydia. Anna Blakney, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, explained: “Our focus is on vaccine delivery, in particular liposomal formulations for RNA vaccines. We take self-amplifying RNA and screen different cationic lipids to investigate cellular uptake and protein expression, evaluating the effect of encapsulation on the inside and the outside of the liposome. This type of optimization study has not been done before. Ultimately, our aim is to complex RNA on the exterior of the liposomes, as this would make scale-up easier; large batches of liposomes could be prepared and complexed with RNA just prior to use, rather than making individual RNA-specific batches.”
“We’ve had the cell encapsulation set-up for just over a year, and find it offers excellent control for our experiments; it is far easier to control the flow rate using this platform with its pre-calibrated pumps than it is to assemble a system in house and optimize everything yourself. The system’s user interface is straightforward to operate – you just type in your parameters – and so establishing the optimal parameters for liposome formation was really easy, ensuring reliable and reproducible production of particles of the exact size and concentration required.”
After completing a Bachelor’s degree in chemical and biological engineering, Anna Blakney pursued a PhD in bioengineering at the University of Washington, US, with a focus on the development of electrospun fibers for multipurpose prevention of pregnancy and HIV. She is now a postdoctoral research fellow at Imperial College London, UK. Anna’s current research is on the formulation of self-amplifying RNA vaccines, including nanoparticle systems, such as liposomes and polyplexes, for optimal cellular uptake, expression, and immunogenicity.