RI-MUHC ANNUAL REPORT 2023
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITIES
Julia Burnier, PhD, a scientist in the Cancer Research Program at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC), was selected to collaborate with ModernaTX Inc. for a sponsored research project in the area of lipid nanoparticles (LNPs).
LNPs are critical components in mRNA medicines such as vaccines, as they are the primary delivery method of RNA strands to target cells. The project is one of only two retained among 33 submissions, following a rigorous two-stage process composed of written proposals and an in-person pitch held at McGill University in December 2022. The RI-MUHC Business Development Office assisted with proposal development and in pitch preparation.
Titled “Optimization of mRNA delivery vehicles based on extracellular particles,” Julia Burnier’s project will investigate ways to enhance the cell-specific delivery of cargo like RNA. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are naturally occurring nanoparticles released by virtually all cells and have the ability to deliver cargo to specific cells. Her lab has extensively studied EVs from different human cells, including cancer cells, and found that their different characteristics impact how they communicate with cells. Her research now aims to develop a cell delivery system using microfluidics that emulates the activity of EVs. This offers the possibility of developing therapies beyond vaccines, for application in precision oncology. The project will run for three years from mid-2023.