RNA technology

The Malaghan Institute is committed to building a New Zealand platform and pipeline for RNA therapeutics and applying this breakthrough science to improve our nation’s health and economic productivity.

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

RNA technology 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. 

Thanks to significant donor funding, the Malaghan Institute has built New Zealand’s first end-to-end preclinical RNA therapeutics platform. Along with capability developed as part of Vaccine Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand, the Malaghan Institute can now carry out all the steps required to develop a home-grown RNA-based therapy.  

Government investment in an RNA Development Platform, announced in 2023, is set to further advance this revolutionary field in New Zealand. The platform is hosted by Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington and Waipapa Taumata Rau, University of Auckland, supported by the Malaghan Institute and the University of Otago. Professor Kjesten Wiig of the Malaghan Institute and Professor Gary Evans from Victoria University's Ferrier Research Institute are directors of the platform.

The institute will continue to work closely with Government and local and international partners 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, contact:

Prof Kjesten Wiig | Director, RNA Development Programme | [email protected]