Within the different applications of nanomedicine currently being developed, nanogene
delivery is appearing as an exciting new technique with the possibility to overcome
recognised hurdles and several biological and medical needs. The central component of all
delivery systems is the requirement for the delivery of genetic material into cells, and for
them to eventually reside in the nucleus where their desired function will be exposed. However,
genetic material does not passively enter cells; thus, a delivery system is necessary. The
emerging field of nano-gene delivery exploits the use of new materials and the properties that
arise at the nanometre-scale to produce delivery vectors that can effectively deliver genetic
material into a variety of different types of cells. The novel physicochemical properties of the
new delivery vectors can be used to address the current challenges existing in nucleic acid delivery
in vitro and in vivo. While there is a growing interest in nanostructure-based gene delivery,
the field is still in its infancy, and there is yet much to discover about nanostructures
and their physicochemical properties in a biological context.
We carried out an organised and focused search of bibliographic databases. Our results suggest
that despite new breakthroughs in nanostructure synthesis and advanced characterization
techniques, we still face many barriers in producing highly efficient and non-toxic delivery
systems. In this review, we overview the types of systems currently used for clinical and biomedical
research applications along with their advantages and disadvantages, as well as discussing
barriers that arise from nano-scale interactions with biological material.
In conclusion, we hope that by bringing the far reaching multidisciplinary nature of nano-gene
delivery to light, new targeted nanotechnology-bases strategies are developed to overcome the
major challenges covered in this review.