Funding worth millions goes to Wurzburg

With JMU participation: Research network on RNA medicine receives financial support

Wurzburg, January 30, 2023—Starting this year, the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology is funding a joint project to research efficient and safe special lipids for mRNA drugs with a two-digit million euro sum for three years. Partners in the research alliance are the universities of Jena, Wurzburg and Dortmund, the start-up company NGP Polymers in Jena, and the companies Bayer, Evonik and ISAR Bioscience.

Since the Corona pandemic, the usefulness of ribonucleic acids (RNA) or messenger RNA (mRNA) for the production of highly effective vaccines has been undisputed. Now the partners from industry and science want to investigate whether other new drugs can also be developed on this basis, as well as whether the few allergic reactions associated with vaccinations can be reduced.

Developing novel special lipids for RNA drugs

Compared to RNA-based vaccines, new compositions of the drugs are needed to deliver the new medications to the disease site in a targeted manner. To do this, the RNA will be packaged in innovative solid-lipid nanoparticles with polymer excipients. The nanoparticles should stably encapsulate the RNA drugs and deliver them to specific organs that were previously difficult to reach, where they are released after cellular uptake. The goal is a tissue-specific effect. And finally, the special lipids should ideally be such that they can be completely degraded or excreted by the body after release of the RNA.

The German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection, through its project management organization VDI/VDE, will fund the research consortium coordinated by ISAR Bioscience with close to 13 million for three years.

Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg (JMU) will receive 2.8 million euros as part of the project. Here, at the Institute for Pharmacy and Food Chemistry, self-regulating production lines and modularly designable special lipids are being developed. The Institute for Molecular Infection Biology is investigating cellular effects of mRNA drugs.

Professors Lorenz Meinel, head of the Chair for Pharmaceutical Technology and Biopharmacy, Andreas Brunschweiger, head of the Chair for Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Chemistry, and Professor Jörg Vogel, Director of the Institute for Molecular Infection Biology, are involved from JMU.

The project commitment is part of an initiative to promote RNA-based technologies. These are to be further advanced in Germany and corresponding production facilities built so that the reagents required for vaccines needed in the future, as well as for new RNA drugs, can be produced quickly in the country.

Text: JMU Press office & ISAR Bioscience


Britta Grigull

Press contact

Dr Britta Grigull