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RNA nanotechnology

The Malaghan Institute is committed to building a New Zealand platform and pipeline for RNA nanomedicine, using the technology behind the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

COVID-19 vaccines are just the tip of the iceberg for what RNA nanotechnology offers, with enormous potential for therapeutic development not just for human medicine but also for treatments that will impact our primary industries.

Thanks to donor funding, the Malaghan Institute has already secured key technology platforms to allow for the production and encapsulation of RNA nanomedicines in lipid nanoparticles. Using this technology, the process of designing, developing and manufacturing vaccines and other therapeutics is made efficient and effective.

RNA nanotechnology presents a significant opportunity for New Zealand to supercharge its biotech sector, become a leader in the development of novel RNA therapeutics and provide vaccine security in the face of future pandemics. It offers the potential to develop real-world solutions for New Zealand specific problems, including diseases that disproportionately affect our Māori and Pasifika populations. 

The Institute is working closely with Government and local and international partners to continue to build New Zealand’s capability to develop, manufacture and commercialise breakthrough RNA therapeutics.


Associate Professor James Ussher, Professor Graham Le Gros, Hon Dr Megan Woods and Dr William Rolleston mark the arrival of the NanoAssemblr Blaze in January 2022 - the first technology of its kind in New Zealand. The Blaze is designed to produce lipid nanoparticles to encapsulate mRNA to safely deliver it to cells.

Get in touch

For more information about our work developing a national RNA platform, contact:

Dr Kjesten Wiig | Director Strategic Partnerships | [email protected]

Kylie Price | Chief Technology Officer | [email protected]