HomeAbout UsStoriesThe Science Behind mRNA and Delivery ShuttlesKahina Lang: The People Behind mRNA and Delivery Shuttles

Kahina Lang: The People Behind mRNA and Delivery Shuttles

In order to shrink the timeline from idea to final RNA-based therapeutic, scientists need to figure out a faster way to identify viable carrier systems.

Lang looks at camera while working in the lab.

September 22, 2023 | 2 min

Kahina Lang often equates her team’s quest to that of building a fleet of space shuttles, each tailored for specific missions with unique goals and targets. In her case, the fleet of space shuttles she’s planning to build isn’t headed past the stratosphere, but instead to specific locations and cell types within the human body. 

Right now, it takes longer to design an appropriate delivery system than it does to design a functional mRNA sequence because of the complexity of a single delivery system's many components. Lang — alongside a growing team of chemists, biologists and data scientists — have their sights set on drastically reducing the time it takes to identify, design and build custom lipid nanoparticles (LNPs). 

“We might use nanoparticles, but we have a macro vision,” says Lang. She imagines a day that scientists could leverage a vast library of LNPs that would safely and efficiently deliver RNA based treatments to specific destinations in the human body. 

To do this, Lang’s team is characterizing many, many LNPs at the bench and completing high-throughput formulation screening. Essentially, the team is rapidly testing a large number of LNPs to understand how the recipe influences where they go and what they can do. They use all this data — and more — to train a model, which would ultimately help scientists identify the best LNP candidates for their specific needs.  

As a trained pharmacist, Lang used to focus on specific drugs. The pivot towards a platform approach and thinking about drug development more holistically has been deeply rewarding. “I did not realize how exciting it would be to not just work on a specific drug, but to work on a technology that could help hundreds of drugs,” she says. “When I go through a difficult moment, I think about this.”

More people behind mRNA and delivery shuttles

Haag Lab
Meet Tobias Haag

Before there are LNPs, there are individual lipids.

Aditi wears PPE and uses a pipette to extract a solution in the lab.
Meet Aditi Mehta

Before a process is optimized, there are many, many, tweaks.

Meet Mahesh Karwa

Before there are large quantities of mRNA vaccines or therapeutics, there are very small quantities.

 Eleni Samaridou stands in the lab wearing a lab coat, gloves and glasses.
Meet Eleni Samaridou

Before custom LNPs are finalized, there are numerous LNPs that don’t make the cut.

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