HomeAbout UsStoriesThe Science Behind mRNA and Delivery ShuttlesTobias Haag: The People Behind mRNA and Delivery Shuttles

Tobias Haag: The People Behind mRNA and Delivery Shuttles

Creating a lipid nanoparticle takes multiple lipids, some of which are highly specialized to the task at hand and manufactured by Haag’s team.

Haag stands in the lab in a lab coat and wearing safety glasses.

September 22, 2023 | 2 min

Tobias Haag, an organic chemist with decades of experience, loves the challenge of creating something new. It’s a good thing because Haag now manages a team of 30 scientists that develops the manufacturing processes for novel lipids. 

Each LNP, or lipid nanoparticle, is typically made up of four different types of lipids. Two lipids are found in nearly every LNP and are (relatively) easy to come by. On the other hand, other lipids are highly customized for the specific LNP and task at hand. These specialized lipids help ensure the particle goes to the right place in the body. 

Customers come to Haag’s team with directives and the team designs manufacturing processes, creates and scales up specialized lipids. Even after countless hours researching chemistry and leveraging software to model chemical reactions and predict scalability, Haag knows that hypotheses don't always come together seamlessly during hands-on experiments. 

“At times, chemistry is a little bit unpredictable, which is sometimes frustrating, but it’s also what makes it interesting,” says Haag. “You need to be very creative to solve issues and that's fun.”  

Scientists in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, were busy developing custom lipid manufacturing processes for a couple of decades, but their efforts became laser-focused in 2020. The group developed manufacturing processes and scaled up two lipids used to create the LNP in the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 mRNA vaccine, Comirnaty. For Haag, his team’s work to help bring the COVID-19 vaccine to people is an experience he’ll never forget. 

“Seeing something that was developed and manufactured at our site end up helping so many humans... it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” he reflects.

Haag’s group continues to build partnerships with innovative companies helping to develop more therapies and vaccines leveraging LNPs for delivery. 

More people behind mRNA and delivery shuttles

 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.

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.

Lang looks at camera while working in the lab.
Meet Kahina Lang

Before the time from idea to final RNA therapeutic or vaccine can shrink, scientists need to formulate viable LNPs.

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