Adapting controlled release technologies to the delivery of DNA has the potential to overcome extracellular barriers that limit gene therapy. Controlled release systems can enhance gene delivery and increase the extent and duration of transgene expression relative to more traditional delivery methods (e.g., injection). These systems typically deliver vectors locally, which can avoid distribution to distant tissues, decrease toxicity to nontarget cells, and reduce the immune response to the vector. Delivery vehicles for controlled release are fabricated from natural and synthetic polymers, which function either by releasing the vector into the local tissue environment or by maintaining the vector at the polymer surface. Vector release or binding is regulated by the effective affinity of the vector for the polymer, which depends upon the strength of molecular interactions. These interactions occur through nonspecific binding based on vector and polymer composition or through the incorporation of complementary binding sites (e.g., biotin-avidin). This review examines the delivery of nonviral and viral vectors from natural and synthetic polymers and presents opportunities for continuing developments to increase their applicability. © 2004 The American Society of Gene Therapy.
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