mRNA nanomedicine: Design and recent applications

mRNA nanomedicines have shown considerable promise as prophylactic and therapeutic agents given their capacity to enable the in situ production of any protein. In this review, we discuss the design of nanoparticle-based platforms for mRNA delivery, as well as their recent application to viral infections, cancers, and genetic diseases.


The rational design and application of mRNA-based medicine have recently yielded some key successes in the clinical management of human diseases. mRNA technology allows for the facile and direct production of proteins in vivo, thus circumventing the need for lengthy drug development cycles and complex production workflows. As such, mRNA formulations can significantly improve upon the biological therapies that have become commonplace in modern medicine. Despite its many advantages, mRNA is inherently fragile and has specific delivery requirements. Leveraging the engineering flexibility of nanobiotechnology, mRNA payloads can be incorporated into nanoformulations such that they do not invoke unwanted immune responses, are targeted to tissues of interest, and can be delivered to the cytosol, resulting in improved safety while enhancing bioactivity. With the rapidly evolving landscape of nanomedicine, novel technologies that are under development have the potential to further improve the clinical utility of mRNA medicine. This review covers the design principles relevant to engineering mRNA-based nanomedicine platforms. It also details the current research on mRNA nanoformulations for addressing viral infections, cancers, and genetic diseases. Given the trends in the field, future mRNA-based nanomedicines have the potential to change how many types of diseases are managed in the clinic.

Author list:

Luke J. Kubiatowicz, Animesh Mohapatra, Nishta Krishnan, Ronnie H. Fang*, Liangfang Zhang*

How to cite:

L. J. Kubiatowicz, A. Mohapatra, N. Krishnan, R. H. Fang, L. Zhang, Exploration 2022, 2, 20210217.