Dr. Linxian LI

Assistant Professor
Ming Wai Lau Centre for Reparative Medicine, Karolinska Institutet




Dr. Linxian Li obtained his PhD degree at University of Heidelberg in Germany, and he pursued postdoctoral research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology under the supervision of  Prof. Robert Langer. In 2017, Dr. Li was among the first batch of young Chinese researchers to receive the MIT Technology Review Innovators Under 35 Awards. He was listed as a pioneer for exploring the therapeutic potentials of human messenger RNA (mRNA). After working on lipid nanoparticles (LNP) for more than 10 years, Dr. Li founded InnoRNA in 2019. InnoRNA is a platform-based biotechnology company focused on developing innovative mRNA and LNP technologies. InnoRNA was listed by MIT Technology Review as the 50 smartest companies in 2020 and 2022. InnoRNA has attracted more than 1 billion HKD investment and established collaborations with BeiGene (NASDAQ:BGNE; 6160.HK; 688235.SH) and Zhifei Biological (300122.SZ) to develop mRNA therapeutics and vaccines.



Design of Lipid Nanoparticles for mRNA Vaccine 


Messenger RNA is a natural biological molecule that works as the template to produce proteins in our body. mRNA can be developed into prophylactic vaccines, cancer vaccines, intracellular therapeutics, regenerative therapeutics, etc. However, mRNA can’t enter the cell by itself to function. The delivery system is the key to fully utilise therapeutic potentials of mRNA. The state-of-the-art delivery system for mRNA is lipid nanoparticles. During the pandemic, FDA has approved two mRNA vaccines for SARS-CoV-2 virus and both vaccines used lipid nanoparticles as the carrier for mRNA. The lipid nanoparticle is a multi-layer lipid membrane system that encapsulates mRNAs between the layers. The core component of LNP is the ionizable lipid, which is a synthetic lipid that binds to the mRNA and encapsulates it within LNPs. Early discovery found that chemical structures of ionizable lipids relate with the delivery efficiency and toxicity of LNPs.


Dr. Li has developed the unique LNP platform to generate thousands of structurally diverse ionizable lipids and screen them to find the best LNP for a variety of therapeutic applications. One application is to reduce the side effects of mRNA vaccine associated with LNPs, such as injection pain. Dr. Li’s team is developing new LNPs with selective immune activation that results in less side effects.