Canadian Lipid Nanoparticle Research: The Key to COVID-19 mRNA Vaccines
COVID-19 vaccines were the first vaccines to be developed, tested, produced and delivered amid a global pandemic (see Covid-19 Pandemic in Canada). As the typical vaccine development, testing and regulatory approval process can take anywhere from 10 to 15 years, several distinctive strategies, coupled with previous research work in key areas, combined to expedite the approval of COVID-19 vaccines, especially messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA)-based vaccines. Among the most significant of this previous work was the research undertaken by the team of Pieter Cullis, Michael Hope and Thomas Madden at the University of British Columbia that began in the early 1980s. Their work, which focused on studying and developing lipid nanoparticles (LNPs), as well as pioneering the technology to produce them, provided the key to making COVID-19 mRNA vaccines possible.