Lipid nanoparticles enabling gene therapies: from concepts to clinical utility

Jayesh A. Kulkarni, Pieter R. Cullis, Roy van der Meel

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

283 Citations (Scopus)
129 Downloads (Pure)


Genetic drugs based on RNA or DNA have remarkable therapeutic potential as virtually any disease can be treated by silencing a pathological gene, expressing a beneficial protein, or by editing defective genes. However, therapies based on nucleic acid polymers require sophisticated delivery systems to deliver these macromolecules to the interior of target cells. In this study, we review progress in developing nonviral lipid nanoparticle (LNP) delivery systems that have attractive properties, including ease of manufacture, reduced immune responses, multidosing capabilities, larger payloads, and flexibility of design. LNP systems represent the most advanced delivery systems for genetic drugs as it is expected that an LNP-short interfering RNA (siRNA) formulation will receive clinical approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2018 for treatment of the hereditary condition transthyretin-mediated amyloidosis, a fatal condition for which there is currently no treatment. This achievement is largely due to the development of optimized ionizable cationic lipids, arguably the most important factor in the clinical success of LNP-siRNA. In addition, we highlight potential LNP applications, including targeting tissues beyond the liver and therapeutic approaches based on messenger RNA or Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats/Cas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-157
Number of pages12
JournalNucleic Acid Therapeutics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • drug delivery
  • gene therapy
  • genetic drugs
  • ionizable cationic lipid
  • lipid nanoparticle
  • nucleic acid


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