International pharmaceutical giant Sanofi recently announced a $25 million investment over five years in MIT’s Daniel Anderson lab to support the development of next-generation mRNA delivery technology. The funding will be utilized by Daniel Anderson Labs to advance RNA vaccines and RNA delivery technology for CRISPR gene editing.

Professor Daniel Anderson emphasized the immense medical potential of mRNA therapy, but highlighted the need for new delivery technologies to make it widely accessible. He expressed satisfaction in continuing the long-standing and fruitful collaboration with Sanofi to develop the next generation of mRNA therapy and extend its applications into the field of gene editing.

Daniel Anderson Lab has dedicated several years to researching novel delivery materials, including lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) and polymer particles. Initially, much of their work in this area was funded by Shire Pharmaceuticals, which later sold its mRNA treatment platform and assisted in the establishment of Translate Bio.

Sanofi bought Translate Bio for $3.2 billion in 2021, leading to the establishment of the mRNA Excellence Center to expedite the development of mRNA vaccines and treatments for various diseases.

The research of Daniel Anderson Lab research has resulted in the formulation of several RNA delivery systems that are currently being tested in clinical trials for various vaccine applications, including an mRNA-based flu vaccine.

Unlike traditional vaccines that consist of inactivated viruses or related proteins to induce immune responses, mRNA vaccines consist of mRNA encoding one or more viral proteins. When injected into the body, host cells begin to produce proteins encoded by the mRNA, which are recognized by the immune system, ultimately triggering a robust immune response to protect against viral infections.

Direct injection of mRNA would result in rapid degradation in the body. Hence, extensive research has been conducted to protect mRNA and facilitate its cellular uptake to ensure sufficient time for it to function effectively. Daniel Anderson has dedicated years to developing lipid nanoparticles (LNP) that can efficiently deliver mRNA vaccines, and he is also exploring novel nanoparticle carriers capable of delivering mRNA to different organs in the body.