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  • Michael Nguyen

Lipid Nanoparticles vs Liposomes: Understanding the Differences and Applications

Updated: Apr 20

Lipid Nanoparticles vs Liposomes

When exploring the world of nanotechnology in medicine, two key drug delivery systems often come up: liposomes and lipid nanoparticles (LNPs). Both are critical in drug delivery systems, but they have distinct characteristics. This post will dive deep into the differences between liposomes and lipid nanoparticles and their implications in the medical field.

What Are Liposomes?

Liposomes are spherical vesicles consisting of one or more phospholipid bilayers. First discovered in the mid-20th century, these vesicles have been used extensively to encapsulate drugs in their aqueous core or within the lipid bilayer, effectively protecting the drug from the external environment and enhancing its delivery to targeted cells. The structure of liposomes allows them to carry both hydrophilic (water-soluble) and lipophilic (fat-soluble) drugs, making them incredibly versatile.

What Are Lipid Nanoparticles?

On the other hand, lipid nanoparticles are a newer form of technology that also involves encapsulating active substances within a lipid structure. Unlike liposomes, LNPs generally consist of a solid lipid core surrounded by a lipid shell. They are typically smaller than liposomes and provide a more stable matrix for encapsulating and delivering nucleic acids such as RNA and DNA, as well as other molecules. This stability is particularly crucial for the effective delivery of RNA-based vaccines, such as those developed for COVID-19.

Fig. 1 - Common depictions of lipid nanoparticles (left) and liposomes (right).

Applications in Medicine

Liposomes are widely used in the delivery of cancer therapies, due to their ability to encapsulate chemotherapeutic drugs and release them directly into tumor cells, reducing the side effects associated with conventional chemotherapy.

Lipid Nanoparticles have gained prominence in the delivery of genetic material. Their role in COVID-19 mRNA vaccines has been pivotal, showcasing their potential to revolutionize vaccine development and other gene therapies.

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Interested in exploring how these nanoparticles can enhance your laboratory's research capabilities? Visit our dedicated services page to learn how Helix Biotech, Inc. can assist you. Learn more about our solutions and get started today!


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