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Building Stability into RNA Lipid Nanoparticle Therapeutics and Vaccines

   School of Chemical Engineering

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  Prof Robert Falconer  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Project - Recent mRNA vaccines have highlighted stability issues with RNA lipid nanoparticle products requiring ultra-low temperature storage. Normally a vaccine or RNA therapeutic product would be expected to stable for over 18 months at 5 +/- 2 °C and be in a ready-to-inject form. Building on the understanding built over years of studying therapeutic liquid formulation we intend to apply this understanding to the new RNA products and discover the new challenges associated with new RNA and RNA-LNP products.

The project is a collaboration with the company Biocina based on Adelaide. They are a CDMO supplying RNA and RNA-LNP active ingredients for clinical trials. The student will be expected to spend some time working with Biocina to assist in technology transfer to their benefit.

Facilities - The University of Adelaide has invested over $3 million in new Biomanufacturing and Nanoparticle Fabrication laboratories. The facility has plasmid DNA fermentation, purification (batch and continuous), lyophilisation, transcription, and microfluidic lipid nanoparticle fabrication capabilities. Analytical instruments include dynamic light scattering, differential scanning calorimetry, isothermal titration calorimetry, HPLCs, and GC-MS along with standard spectroscopy.

Supervisors - The project will have three supervisors; Prof. Robert Falconer (biopharmaceutical manufacturing), Prof. Chunxia Zhou (nanoparticle design) and Dr Richard van Wegen (biopharmaceutical engineer at Biocina). Robert Falconer is the principal supervisor. He has supervised successful postgraduate students in University of Cambridge and University of Sheffield who undertook research on protein stability, liquid formulation, process development and enzyme function. The projects were usually in collaboration with industry partners.

Student requirements – We are looking for a highly motivated candidate with at least a B.Sc. or B. Eng. in Biotechnology, Biochemistry, Bioprocess/Chemical engineering or related fields. The candidate will preferably have a Master degree or work experience in a related field.

Scholarship - The University of Adelaide offers Research Scholarships of $AU 28,854 p.a. fully funded as part of a CRCP grant “mRNA Manufacturing and Formulation Service for Late-Stage Clinical Trials”.

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