Nanoparticles For Gene Delivery

Due to the complexity and heterogeneity in cancer, gene therapy can provide a unique approach for treatment. Research on gene therapy focuses on the successful in vivo transfer of genes to the target tissue for the sustained expression of the genes of dysfunction. Various vectors, both viral and non-viral in origin, are used for this purpose.31-34 The limitations associated with viral vectors, namely issues of integration with the host genome, self-replication, recombination potential, and immunogenicity, have encouraged researchers to seek alternatives such as nanoparticles, liposomes, and other cationic complexes.35-37 Despite the low transfection efficiency associated with these non-viral vectors, they have the advantages of safety and high encapsulation efficiency. The DNA complexes of cationic liposomes and polymers have high transfection efficiency in vitro; however, owing to their toxicity and rapid clearance, these formulations have limited efficiency in vivo. The cationic liposomes and polymers, being positively charged, form aggregates with the negatively charged serum proteins and opsonins, resulting in enhanced phagocytosis and clearance from the blood circulation.38

In addition to cationic polymers, several other natural and synthetic polymers have been used in preparing DNA-encapsulated nanoparticles. Polymeric nanoparticles are increasingly popular, owing to such advantages as their small size, ease of production, and administration. Several polymers have been investigated as vectors for gene delivery applications. There has been a fair amount of success in reducing immunogenicity and cytotoxicity with the concomitant enhancement of the efficiency of transfection with these polymers. Besides protecting the DNA from degradation, the nanoparticles enhance the targeting of tumor tissues.38

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