28 Jun 23

In recent years, researchers and scientists have been increasingly exploring Lipid Nanoparticles, or LNPs, as a groundbreaking solution for drug delivery. These tiny, versatile carriers have the potential to revolutionise the field of medicine by overcoming several challenges posed by more traditional methods.

Apart from drug delivery, LNPs are now being deployed in a variety of industries, including agriculture, nutrition, cosmetics, medical imaging, and other cutting-edge areas such as nanoreactors. LNPs, which gained significant attention for being an essential component of the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines, are pivotal for efficiently preserving and transferring mRNA to cells.

In this comprehensive blog, we will delve into the world of LNPs, exploring their structure, properties, manufacturing techniques, and applications. We will also discuss the limitations of conventional drug delivery methods, the challenges they pose, and how LNPs provide innovative solutions to overcome these challenges, the future prospects of lipid nanoparticles, their potential to shape the landscape of personalised medicine, and how our expert lipid chemistry team help you in the synthesis of various phospholipid molecules from mg to multi-gram scale for safe and efficient drug delivery.

Lipid Nanoparticles

Definition and Structure

Lipid nanoparticles, or lipid-based delivery systems, are nanoscale particles made of lipids, which are naturally occurring or synthesised molecules containing hydrophobic (water-repelling) and hydrophilic (water-attracting) sections. These nanoparticles are intended to encapsulate or deliver therapeutic materials to specific sites within the body, such as small molecules, nucleic acids, and proteins. They often have a stabilising layer on top and a lipid core, which makes them perfect for encasing drugs.

Types of Lipid Nanoparticles

There are several types of lipid nanoparticles commonly used in various applications. Here are some of the main types:

  • Liposomes

Liposomes are spherical vesicles made up of lipid bilayers that resemble the structure of cell membranes. They have the ability to entrap hydrophilic pharmaceuticals in their aqueous core and incorporate hydrophobic medications into their lipid bilayers.

  • Solid lipid nanoparticles (SLNs)

Solid lipid nanoparticles (SLNs), consist of solid lipids at room temperature. They typically range in size from 50 to 1,000 nanometers.

  • Nanostructured lipid carriers (NLCs)

Nanostructured lipid carriers (NLCs), are similar to SLNs in that they contain both solid and liquid lipids, resulting in a more flexible lipid matrix.

  • Lipid emulsions

Lipid emulsions, are colloidal systems composed of oil droplets stabilised by a lipid layer. Each offering unique advantages for drug delivery.

lipid nanoparticles - from liposome to mRNA vaccine delivery
 (lipid nanoparticles – from liposome to mRNA vaccine delivery)(image reference – ACS  publication)


These are some other commonly used lipid nanoparticle types, such as Lipid-drug conjugate nanoparticles, Lipid-polymer hybrid nanoparticles and cationic lipid nanoparticles, each with its own unique features and applications. Researchers continue to develop and optimize lipid nanoparticles to meet specific needs in drug delivery, gene therapy, cosmetic formulations, and other areas of interest.

Manufacturing Methodologies

Several procedures, such as high-pressure homogenization, solvent emulsification/evaporation, microemulsion techniques, and the combination of nanoemulsion techniques with microfluidic-based mixing techniques, can be particularly beneficial for the manufacturing of lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) specifically designed for RNA delivery. With the aid of these methods, particle size, medication loading, and stability may all be precisely controlled.

Properties and Advantages

Lipid nanoparticles have good biocompatibility, stability, and the capacity to encapsulate pharmaceuticals that are both hydrophilic and hydrophobic. Their small size makes them easier for cells to absorb, and their lipid content enables regulated drug release.

Challenges with Conventional Drug Delivery Methods

Conventional drug delivery methods, such as oral administration, intravenous injection, or topical application, have limitations that can hinder the effectiveness of treatment. Some of the major challenges include:

  • Low Bioavailability

Many drugs have low solubility in water, making it difficult for them to reach their intended targets within the body.

  • Lack of Targeting

Conventional methods often fail to selectively deliver drugs to specific tissues or cells, leading to systemic side effects and reduced efficacy.

  • Rapid Elimination

Drugs can be rapidly eliminated from the body before achieving their desired therapeutic effect.

  • Degradation

Certain drugs are easily degraded by enzymes in the body, rendering them ineffective or reducing their potency.

In order to overcome these issues and enhance the effectiveness, scalability, and reproducibility of lipid nanoparticle production techniques, scientists and researchers continue to investigate new methodologies and technologies. These developments are intended to improve the functionality, stability, and adaptability of lipid nanoparticles for a variety of uses, such as gene therapy and medication administration.

Solutions Offered by Lipid Nanoparticles

Lipid nanoparticles offer innovative solutions to overcome the challenges associated with conventional drug delivery methods. Here are some of their key advantages:

  • Improved Drug Solubility

Lipid nanoparticles offer improved drug solubility, allowing hydrophobic drugs to be encapsulated within their lipid core, thereby increasing their bioavailability.

  • Targeted Drug Delivery

Lipid nanoparticles can be created to specifically target sick cells or tissues through surface changes, enhancing drug concentration at the target site and reducing off-target effects.

  • Prolonged Circulation Time

Lipid nanoparticles can be designed to evade the body’s immune system and avoid rapid clearance, extending the drug’s circulation time and enhancing its therapeutic potential.

  • Protection from Degradation

The lipid shell of these nanoparticles serves as a barrier to protect against enzymatic degradation, increasing the stability of the medicine that is inside.

  • Efficient Intracellular Delivery

LNPs have demonstrated exceptional capabilities in efficiently delivering therapeutic cargo, such as mRNA or siRNA, into the cytoplasm of target cells. They effectively overcome cellular barriers, including cellular membranes and endosomes, to ensure the cargo reaches its intended site of action within the cell.

                                                  (Researchers at o2h discovery lab)


Overall, lipid nanoparticles offer a wide range of advantages in drug delivery. With ongoing research and technological advancements, lipid nanoparticles are poised to revolutionise the field of medicine and significantly improve patient care.

Applications and Future Prospects

Lipid nanoparticles have already shown great promise in a number of areas, including the treatment of cancer, gene therapy, and the creation of vaccines. They have the potential to revolutionise personalised medicine by enabling customised drug delivery plans based on the requirements of each patient. Ongoing research intends to further optimise lipid nanoparticle compositions, boost their therapeutic efficacy, and improve targeting capabilities.

Lipid nanoparticles represent a transformative approach to drug delivery, addressing the limitations of conventional methods and providing innovative solutions. Their biocompatibility, versatility, and ability to overcome solubility and targeting issues make them a promising platform for the future of medicine. As research continues to evolve, we can anticipate the development of novel treatments and therapies that will improve patient outcomes and revolutionize healthcare practices. 

With lipid nanoparticles at the forefront of scientific advancements, the possibilities for personalized medicine and targeted therapies are boundless, paving the way for a brighter and more effective future in drug delivery. (Also Read)


                                                  (Researcher at o2h discovery lab)


o2h discovery’s expertise in the synthesis of phospholipid molecules:

o2h discovery is a well-known industry leader in medicinal chemistry and drug discovery services. With a wealth of expertise and experience, o2h discovery has also established itself as a pioneer in the synthesis of novel and commercial lipids and analogues, plus key scaffolds and building blocks that can be incorporated into diverse target molecules for further drug delivery applications. 

In the last few years, we have worked on various projects that required the production of a variety of lipid compounds and building blocks from mg scale to gram scale and have developed the required in-house expertise for synthetic chemistry, purification, and QC of such complex long chain aliphatic molecules that are now in demand for many valuable drug discovery and development programs. 

Here is a recent testimonial/feedback from one of our clients to whom we have provided a variety of complex lipid targets to support their drug discovery research:


(Client feedback about our lipid molecule synthesis services)
                  (Client feedback about our lipid nanoparticles synthesis services)


Our expertise in lipid chemistry and working approach are outlined below:

  • We have expertise in the synthesis of a variety of lipids, such as PEGylated, Fluorescent, and lonic lipid components.
  • We use high-quality starting materials to avoid contamination of isomeric impurities in our final products.
  • We have developed specific purification methods and expertise to generate lipid products meeting high purity requirements.
  • We confirm the purity of key intermediates and final lipid compounds through specially developed analytical protocols using suitably sensitive instrumentation for lipid analysis, i.e., CAD HPLC, and relevant analytical columns.
  • We characterise our final lipid compounds by various other analyses (i.e. LCMS, 1H-NMR) supplying high-quality materials with COA for further research and testing.
  • We customise our project management approach as per the requirements of our collaborators.


o2h discovery’s expertise in the synthesis of phospholipid molecules (for lipid nanoparticles) stems from specialised knowledge built up and acquired through close collaboration with partners, as well as accessibility to cutting-edge techniques, customised formulation design, comprehensive characterization, and stringent quality control measures. Through our proficiency in lipid synthesis, we contribute to advancing drug delivery technologies and facilitating the development of novel therapeutic solutions.

o2h discovery, being a Contract Research Organisation, also provides Custom Synthesis Services, Targeted Protein Degradation services, with the capabilities to support hit-to-lead and lead optimisation programs.

To discover the full extent of the o2h discovery’s expertise, please contact us at discovery@o2h.com

Also, check out our Integrated Drug Discovery Services, Chemistry, Biology, ADME, Scale Up and Specialty Chemistry services (Targeted Protein degradation), and many more…

If you want to give a chemistry boost to your early-stage biotech, please read about our o2h Kickstarter competition (UK), o2h Kickstarter competition 2.0 (Australia), and o2h Kickstarter competition 3.0 (Israel)

For more information, visit o2h.com or contact us at: https://o2h.com/contact/

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