Charge-reversal lipids, peptide-based lipids, and nucleoside-based lipids for gene delivery.
Twenty years after gene therapy was introduced in the clinic, advances in the technique continue to garner headlines as successes pique the interest of clinicians, researchers, and the public. Gene therapy's appeal stems from its potential to revolutionize modern medical therapeutics by offering solutions to myriad diseases through treatments tailored to a specific individual's genetic code. Both viral and non-viral vectors have been used in the clinic, but the low transfection efficiencies when non-viral vectors are used have lead to an increased focus on engineering new gene delivery vectors. To address the challenges facing non-viral or synthetic vectors, specifically lipid-based carriers, we have focused on three main themes throughout our research: (1) The release of the nucleic acid from the carrier will increase gene transfection. (2) The use of biologically inspired designs, such as DNA binding proteins, to create lipids with peptide-based headgroups will improve delivery. (3) Mimicking the natural binding patterns observed within DNA, by using lipids having a nucleoside headgroup, will produce unique supramolecular assembles with high transfection efficiencies. The results presented in this Account demonstrate that engineering the chemical components of the lipid vectors to enhance nucleic acid binding and release kinetics can improve the cellular uptake and transfection efficacy of nucleic acids. Specifically, our research has shown that the incorporation of a charge-reversal moiety to initiate a shift of the lipid from positive to negative net charge improves transfection. In addition, by varying the composition of the spacer (rigid, flexible, short, long, or aromatic) between the cationic headgroup and the hydrophobic chains, we can tailor lipids to interact with different nucleic acids (DNA, RNA, siRNA) and accordingly affect delivery, uptake outcomes, and transfection efficiency. The introduction of a peptide headgroup into the lipid provides a mechanism to affect the binding of the lipid to the nucleic acid, to influence the supramolecular lipoplex structure, and to enhance gene transfection activity. Lastly, we discuss the in vitro successes that we have had when using lipids possessing a nucleoside headgroup to create unique self-assembled structures and to deliver DNA to cells. In this Account, we state our hypotheses and design elements as well as describe the techniques that we have used in our research to provide readers with the tools to characterize and engineer new vectors.
LaManna, CM; Lusic, H; Camplo, M; McIntosh, TJ; Barthélémy, P; Grinstaff, MW
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