ST Pharm announced on May 3 that it has signed a lipid supply contract worth 17.7 billion won with Biotech in North America, starting its global mRNA consignment development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) business in earnest. Lipids are a key raw material for mRNA-LNPs. LNPs refers to lipid nanoparticles.
An LNP is a carrier that allows a drug to pass through cell membranes and acts in the cytoplasm and is widely used as a carrier for various gene therapies as well as mRNA vaccines.
The recent success of mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna fueled the development of RNA-based therapeutics, sparking off a rise in demand for lipids essential for mRNA vaccine development. But LNP is in short supply in the global market now. Only a few companies can mass-produce lipids using good manufacturing practice (GMP)-certified facilities.
There are two types of lipids -- Ionizable lipid and PEG lipid, both of which are expensive. ST Pharm can mass-produce three tons of ionized lipids per year and one ton of PEG lipids per year in GMP-certified facilities. The Korean drugmaker is expected to create new business opportunities by contributing to the stabilization of lipid supply.