Gene therapy today is hampered by the need of a safe and efficient gene delivery system that can provide a sustained therapeutic effect without cytotoxicity or unwanted immune responses. Bolus gene delivery in solution results in the loss of delivered factors via lymphatic system and may cause undesired effects by the escape of bioactive molecules to distant sites. Controlled gene delivery systems, acting as localized depot of genes, provide an extended sustained release of genes, giving prolonged maintenance of the therapeutic level of encoded proteins. They also limit the DNA degradation in the nuclease rich extra-cellular environment. While attempts have been made to adapt existing controlled drug delivery technologies, more novel approaches are being investigated for controlled gene delivery. DNA encapsulated in nano/micro spheres of polymers have been administered systemically/orally to be taken up by the targeted tissues and provide sustained release once internalized. Alternatively, DNA entrapped in hydrogels or scaffolds have been injected/implanted in tissues/cavities as platforms for gene delivery. The present review examines these different modalities for sustained delivery of viral and non-viral gene-delivery vectors. Design parameters and release mechanisms of different systems made with synthetic or natural polymers are presented along with their prospective applications and opportunities for continuous development.
Keywords: Controlled release, plasmid DNA, gene delivery, polymer, nanoparticles, microparticles, hydrogels, scaffolds
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