Material Design for Next-Generation mRNA Vaccines Using Lipid Nanoparticles

Akon Higuchi, Tzu Cheng Sung, Ting Wang, Qing Dong Ling, S. Suresh Kumar, Shih Tien Hsu, Akihiro Umezawa

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Vaccine development is among the critical issues for ceasing the COVID-19 pandemic. This review discusses the current usage of biomaterials in vaccine development and provides brief descriptions of the vaccine types and their working mechanisms. New types of vaccine platforms (next-generation vaccines and DNA- or mRNA-based vaccines) are discussed in detail. The mRNA vaccine encoding the spike protein viral antigen can be produced in a cell-free system, suggesting that mRNA vaccines are safer than “classic vaccines” using live or inactivated virus. The mRNA vaccine efficacy is typically high at approximately 95%. However, most mRNA vaccines need to be maintained at −20 or −70 degrees for storage for long periods (half a year) and their transportation because of mRNA vaccine instability in general, although mRNA vaccines with unmodified and self-amplifying RNA (ARCT-154, Arcturus), which have a lyophilized form, have recently been reported to be kept at room temperature. mRNA vaccines are typically entrapped in lipid nanoparticles composed of ionizable lipids, polyethylene glycol (PEG)-lipids, phospholipids, and cholesterol. These components and their composition affect mRNA vaccine stability and efficacy and the size of the mRNA vaccine. The development of an improved mRNA vaccine entrapped in sophisticated biomaterials, such as novel lipid nanoparticles, using new types of biopolymers or lipids is necessary for high efficacy, safe transportation and long-term storage of the next generation of mRNA vaccines under mild conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)394-436
Number of pages43
JournalPolymer Reviews
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2023


  • Lipid nanoparticle
  • ionizable lipid
  • mRNA vaccine
  • polyethylene glycol
  • severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2


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