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ERC Projects

  1. "RatInhalRNA"

Since 2023, we are funded by an ERC Consolidator Grant "RatInhalRNA" to develop inhalable RNA nanocarriers by machine learning and molecular dynamics simulations under grant number ERC-2022-COG-101088587. The project consolidates previous work from our ERC-StG project "Novel Asthma Therapy" with the aim of more rationally designing polymer nanocarriers for RNA by computational and limited experimental work. (Figure credits to Dr. Ben Winkeljann)

The project has a clear aim of reducing wet lab efforts by establishing machine learning algorithms based on experimental data for prediciting improved nanocarriers in a use case of antiviral siRNA against respiratory virus infections.

Project-related publications:

  • Jonas Binder, Joshua Winkeljann, Katharina Steinegger, Lara Trnovec, Daria Orekhova, Jonas Zähringer, Andreas Hörner, Valentin Fell, Philip Tinnefeld, Benjamin Winkeljann, Wolfgang Frieß, Olivia M Merkel, Olivia M Merkel*: Pulmonary siRNA Delivery with Sophisticated Amphiphilic Poly(Spermine Acrylamides) for the Treatment of Lung Fibrosis. Closing the Gap between Experiment and Simulation─ A Holistic Study on the Complexation of Small Interfering RNAs with Polyethylenimine.
    Molecular Pharmaceutics 2024, doi:10.1021/acs.molpharmaceut.3c00747
  • Domizia Baldassi, Shubhankar Ambike, Martin Feuerherd, Cho-Chin Cheng, David J Peeler, Daniel P Feldmann, Diana Leidy Porras-Gonzalez, Xin Wei, Lea-Adriana Keller, Nikolaus Kneidinger, Mircea Gabriel Stoleriu, Andreas Popp, Gerald Burgstaller, Suzie H Pun, Thomas Michler, Olivia M Merkel*: Inhibition of SARS-CoV-2 replication in the lung with siRNA/VIPER polyplexes. J Control Release 2022 345:661-674. doi: 10.1016/j.jconrel.2022.03.051

  1. "RNhale"

Since July 2022, we have been funded by an ERC-Proof-of-Concept grant "RNhale" to develop dry powder formulations of RNA-loaded nanoparticles by spray drying under grant number ERC-2022-PoC1-101069308. The project logically builds upon our ERC-StG project "Novel Asthma Therapy" with the aim of refining, translating and exploiting our findings. (Figure credits to Dr. Ben Winkeljann)

The project has a clear aim of assessing the commercial positioning of a platform technology for spray-drying RNA and of refining existing protocols for spray-drying RNA NPs made with diverse RNA NPs to overcome current challenges of storage and transport conditions as well as delivery beyond the liver.

Project-related publications:

  1. "Novel Asthma Therapy"

From October 2015 until December 2021, we developed dry powder platform technologies for targeted pulmonary siRNA delivery to activated T cells in the lung under the ERC Starting Grant ERC-2014-StG – 637830 "Novel Asthma Therapy".

The project had a clear aim of advancing pulmonary nanomedicine as novel asthma therapy specifically and RNA delivery in general.

Project-related publications: