Gene therapy is a potential medical solution that promises new treatments and may hold the cure for many different types of diseases and disorders of the human race. However, gene therapy is still a growing medical field and the technology is still in its infancy. The main challenge for gene therapy is to find safe and effective vectors that are able to deliver genes to the specific cells and get them to express inside the cells. Due to safety concerns, synthetic delivery systems, rather than viral vectors, are preferred for gene delivery and significant efforts have been focused on the development of this field. However, we are faced with problems like low gene transfer efficiency, cytotoxicity and lack of cell-targeting capability for these synthetic delivery systems. Over the years, we have seen a variety of new and effective polymers which have been designed and synthesized specifically for gene delivery. Moreover, various strategies that aimed at enhancing their physicochemical properties, improving transfection efficiency, reducing cytotoxicity as well as incorporating functional groups that offer better targetability and higher cellular uptake are established. Here, we look at two potential polymeric carriers, chitosan and poly(amidoamine) dendrimers, which have been widely reported for gene delivery. For chitosan, the interest arises from their availability, excellent non-cytotoxicity profile, biodegradability and ease of modification. For poly(amidoamine) dendrimers, the interest arises from their ease of synthesis with controlled structure and size, minimal cytotoxicity, biodegradability and high transfection efficiencies. The latest developments on these polymers for gene delivery will be the main focus of this article.
Keywords: Chitosan, poly(amidoamine), polymer, carrier, cationic, gene, transfection, ligand