Making better mRNA therapeutics

Research area

 |  mRNA vaccines


 |  mRNA vaccines, mRNA therapeutics, innate immunity


 |  PhD/Doctorate, Honours, Masters

Contact supervisors at any time

Associate Professor Michael Gantier

Dr Sunil Sapkota

Project description

Despite the huge success of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines in the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, unwanted inflammation due to activation of innate immune sensors remains a major challenge in the manufacture and implementation of mRNA therapeutics.

Our team has recently discovered that select short, synthetic RNA molecules are strong inhibitors of the nucleic acid sensors (TLR3, 7, 9 and cGAS) (Valentin 2021 Nucl. Acids Res.). This project will investigate how our discoveries can be applied to improve the immunogenicity and production of mRNA therapeutics such as mRNA vaccines. This exciting work has the potential to directly impact how mRNA therapeutics are made. Importantly, the successful candidate is guaranteed to publish peer-reviewed works related to their studies upon joining our laboratory (with a possible Thesis by publication stream for PhD students).