Lipid nanoparticles for delivery of messenger RNA to the back of the eye

Siddharth Patel, Renee C. Ryals, Kyle K. Weller, Mark E. Pennesi, Gaurav Sahay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Retinal gene therapy has had unprecedented success in generating treatments that can halt vision loss. However, immunogenic response and long-term toxicity with the use of viral vectors remain a concern. Non-viral vectors are relatively non-immunogenic, scalable platforms that have had limited success with DNA delivery to the eye. Messenger RNA (mRNA) therapeutics has expanded the ability to achieve high gene expression while eliminating unintended genomic integration or the need to cross the restrictive nuclear barrier. Lipid-based nanoparticles (LNPs) remain at the forefront of potent delivery vectors for nucleic acids. Herein, we tested eleven different LNP variants for their ability to deliver mRNA to the back of the eye. LNPs that contained ionizable lipids with low pKa and unsaturated hydrocarbon chains showed the highest amount of reporter gene transfection in the retina. The kinetics of gene expression showed a rapid onset (within 4 h) that persisted for 96 h. The gene delivery was cell-type specific with majority of the expression in the retinal pigmented epithelium (RPE) and limited expression in the Müller glia. LNP-delivered mRNA can be used to treat monogenic retinal degenerative disorders of the RPE. The transient nature of mRNA-based therapeutics makes it desirable for applications that are directed towards retinal reprogramming or genome editing. Overall, non-viral delivery of RNA therapeutics to diverse cell types within the retina can provide transformative new approaches to prevent blindness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-100
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Controlled Release
StatePublished - Jun 10 2019


  • Eye
  • Lipid nanoparticle
  • Retina
  • Retinal degeneration
  • Transfection efficiency
  • mRNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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