Pharmaceutical Research

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 113-126

First online:

Cationic Polymer Based Gene Delivery Systems

  • Stefaan C. De SmedtAffiliated withFaculty of Pharmacy, Ghent University
  • , Joseph DemeesterAffiliated withFaculty of Pharmacy, Ghent University
  • , Wim E. HenninkAffiliated withDepartment of Pharmaceutics, University of Utrecht

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Gene transfer to humans requires carriers for the plasmid DNA which canefficiently and safely carrythe gene into the nucleus of the desired cells. A series of chemically differentcationic polymers arecurrently being investigated for these purposes. Although many cationic polymersindeed condense DNAspontaneously, which is a requirement for gene transfer in most types of cells,the physicochemical andbiopharmaceutical behavior of the current generation of polyplexes severelylimits an efficient genetransfer in vitro and especially in vivo. This papersummarizes recent physicochemical and biologicalinformation on polyplexes and aims to provide new insights with respect to thistype of gene deliverysystem. Firstly, the chemical structure of frequently studied cationic polymersis represented. Secondly,the parameters influencing condensation of DNA by cationic polymers aredescribed. Thirdly, the surfaceproperties, solubility, aggregration behavior, degradation and dissociation ofpolyplexes are considered.The review ends by describing the in vitro and in vivo genetransfection behavior of polyplexes.

cationic polymers polycations DNA plasmid non-viral gene therapy gene carriers