Over the last few decades, various vectors have been developed in the field of gene therapy. There still exist a number of important unresolved problems associated with the use of viral as well as non viral vectors. These techniques can suffer from secondary toxicity or low gene transfer efficiency. Therefore an efficient and safe method of DNA delivery still needs to be found for medical applications. DNA electrotransfer is a physical method that consists of the local application of electric pulses after the introduction of DNA into the extra cellular medium. As electrotransfer has proven to be one of the most efficient and simple non viral methods of delivery, it may provide an important alternative technique in the field of gene therapy. The present review focuses on questions related to the mechanism of DNA electrotransfer, i.e. the basic physical processes responsible for the electropermeabilisation of lipid membranes. It also addresses the current limitations of the method as applied to DNA transfer, in particular its efficiency in achieving in vitro gene expression in cells and also its potential use for in vivo gene delivery.
Keywords: Gene transfer, gene expression, plasmid DNA, membrane, electric field, electroporation, electropermeabilisation
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