Covid vaccine based on lipid nanoparticles (LNP) have been the success story of the covid pandemic. Our group has been working on the long-term stability of liquid formulation of mRNA like LNP particles in collaboration with the industry. However, their rapid approval was made at the expense of an optimisation of the formulation, especially its excipients. When selecting excipients for a formulation, researchers should remember the product may need to be stored at sub-zero temperatures and excipients affect that milieu.
The choice of the buffering system and osmolyte is important as the pH may change upon freezing, as has been shown for sodium phosphate buffered systems; whilst histidine buffers are more ‘pH-resistant’ upon freezing (Kolhe et al., 2010). Other excipients such as sodium chloride, antioxidants, metal chelators can be added but it remains unclear how much they improve the stability of mRNA-LNP formulations during storage (Wayment-Steele, 2020).
Here, in this project, we seek to increase scientific knowledge and understanding of the role of excipients on the stability of LNPs upon storage. LNPs will be produced and formulated in presence of different excipients and buffers, their physicochemical properties characterised, their stability over time and their ability to deliver their payload will be characterised. Several techniques will be used including microfluidics, light scattering, zeta potential, electron microscopy, confocal microscopy, cell culture or electrophoresis.
Candidates are expected to hold (or be about to obtain) a minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a related area/subject. Candidates with previous experience (bio)chemical engineering, chemistry, biochemistry, biophysics, material science, pharmaceutical sciences or related subject. A Master’s degree in a relevant subject and/or experience in (bio)chemical engineering, chemistry, biochemistry, biophysics or related subject is desirable but not necessary. They are also expected to have a strong will to learn different scientific aspects.
Applicants interested in this project should make direct contact with the Primary Supervisor to arrange to discuss the project further as soon as possible.
How To Apply
For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website (https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/study/research/apply/). Informal enquiries may be made directly to the primary supervisor. On the online application form select the appropriate subject title.
For international students, we also offer a unique 4 year PhD programme that gives you the opportunity to undertake an accredited Teaching Certificate whilst carrying out an independent research project across a range of biological, medical and health sciences.
Incomplete applications will not be considered and withdrawn.
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester, and is at the heart of all of our activities. The full Equality, diversity and inclusion statement can be found on the website https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/study/research/apply/equality-diversity-inclusion/”