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Translating chitosan to clinical delivery of nucleic acid-based drugs

  • Carla Pereira Gomes (a1), Cátia Daniela Ferreira Lopes (a2), Pedro Miguel Duarte Moreno (a3), Aida Varela-Moreira (a4), Maria José Alonso (a5) and Ana Paula Pêgo (a6)...

Abstract

A number of systems based on synthetic molecules, among them cationic liposomes and poly(ethylene imine)-based polymers, have been proposed as delivery vehicles for nucleic acids. Some of these systems have even reached the market, ensuring efficient and transient transfection levels in a variety of cell types. However, toxicity issues have limited their application in vivo. In this context, chitosan, a biocompatible and biodegradable polysaccharide, has been proposed as a promising alternative for the delivery of nucleic acid-based molecules. Here we present an overview of the state of the art of chitosan-based vectors for nucleic acid delivery and the most recent data on the in vivo testing of the proposed systems. We additionally express our view on the barriers that might be hampering the translation of this knowledge into clinical practice and the challenges that need to be fulfilled for these promising vehicles to reach patients.

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