Evonik Supplies Key LNP Technology for Gene-Based Drugs

December 10, 2020
Pharmaceutical Technology Editors

Evonik offers lipid nanoparticles for gene-based drug development and manufacturing.

German specialty chemicals company, Evonik, is supplying lipid nanoparticles (LNP) for gene-based drug development and manufacturing in response to the breakthrough in gene-based vaccines using LNP technology prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic. LNP is currently the only established process for transporting mRNA vaccines into the human cell, the company stated in a Dec. 7, 2020 press release. Without the protection of LNP encapsulation, the mRNA with the blueprint for stimulating the immune system could not reach the right site of action in the body and would degrade within seconds in the bloodstream, making the vaccine ineffective, Evonik stated in its press release.

Evonik recognized the potential of gene-based therapeutic approaches early on and the potential application for its LNP technology in these therapies. The company develops and formulates LNP in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, and operates a plant for the production of commercial quantities in Birmingham, AL, United States.

"With the acquisition of Burnaby-based Transferra Nanosciences, we deliberately invested in this promising technology in 2016,"explained Thomas Riermeier, head of Evonik's Health Care business line, in the press release. With the acquisition of Wilshire Technologies, a US manufacturer of natural excipients for the pharmaceutical industry, the portfolio was further expanded in early 2020.

Evonik has supported various COVID-19 vaccine projects, from development to the production of clinical samples, and has been involved in more than 100 projects in the past years, within various application fields.

“Coping with the pandemic depends largely on the availability of effective vaccines,” said Christian Kullmann, chairman of Evonik's executive board, in the press release. "The fact that the supply of vaccines is imminent is an outstanding achievement of the pharmaceutical and biotech industry, which we support with highly specialized applications from formulation development to production.”

“We are now consistently expanding this position as a solutions provider and integrated development partner,” Kullmann added.

"The higher efficacy as well as the significantly shorter development times are advantages of gene-based drug products that are currently becoming particularly apparent. The dynamics of the market show a paradigm shift in the way the industry will develop and produce drugs in the future," said Riermeier in the press release. Evonik intends to further expand its activities, including the marketing of special pharmaceutical excipients such as lipids, the development of formulations, and the production of clinical test samples and commercial quantities. The company is also planning expansions of clinical production capacities and commercial-scale manufacturing capacities.

Source: Evonik