Wacker and CordenPharma in RNA Drugs Project

04.04.2023 - Together with Munich’s Ludwig Maximilian University (LMU) and the Humboldt University of Berlin (HU Berlin), German companies Wacker Chemie and CordenPharma International have launched a three-year project to accelerate the development of RNA-based drugs.

The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is supplying funding of some €1.4 million to support the effort to develop a new generation of lipid nanoparticles (LNPs), which are a key component of these novel pharmaceuticals.

The plans that will build on the success of RNA-based Covid-19 vaccines include training a machine-learning algorithm that automatically identifies the best constituents for new RNA formulations, thus eliminating a particularly time-consuming and costly development stage.

RNA as an active ingredient has “great medical potential,” the partners say, adding that the focus here is not just on vaccines for infectious diseases, but also on treatments for cancer and hereditary diseases. Various actives with different lipid-nanoparticle compositions are being investigated globally, as they note.

In the division of labor, Wacker will supply RNA molecules, the core component of the RNA-based pharmaceuticals. Alongside the mRNA prioritized in clinical applications, it will also produce other RNA molecules for the project, such as self-amplifying RNAs (saRNAs) and circular RNAs (circRNAs).  The company is testing new manufacturing processes specifically for the new application.

In cooperation with HU Berlin, CordenPharma will develop modified lipids as building blocks for nanoparticles. The partners will synthesize the novel lipid components and analyze them physicochemically in combination with various RNA molecules. The cellular functionality of the formulations will then be tested in cell-culture experiments at LMU.

Author: Dede Williams, Freelance Journalist