Published Online: 13 DEC 2002
Copyright © 2002 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Encyclopedia Of Polymer Science and Technology
How to Cite
Pack, D. W. 2002. Gene-Delivery Polymers. Encyclopedia Of Polymer Science and Technology.
- Published Online: 13 DEC 2002
Human gene therapy promises to provide unparalleled treatments for afflictions ranging from cystic fibrosis to cardiovascular disease to cancer. The development of safe and efficient methods for delivery of genetic material to specific cells within the body has been a limiting factor in implementation of this technology. Delivery methodologies have included the use of recombinant viruses and synthetic materials, especially cationic polymers. While viruses are by far the most efficient delivery vehicles currently available, polymers exhibit several propertiesincluding very flexible chemistry, potential for biocompatibility, simplicity, and inexpensive synthesisthat make them excellent candidates for the gene delivery vehicles of the future. However, polymers are typically several orders of magnitude less efficient than viruses and are generally considered unacceptable for human gene therapy. Much work is underway to design and synthesize improved polymers for gene delivery applications. This article summarizes the important criteria for an ideal gene delivery vehicle in terms of the potential barriers that must be overcome. Further, the current state of the polymer-mediated gene delivery field is reviewed and several new classes of polymers, specifically designed for human gene delivery, are described.
Keywords: gene therapy; cationic polymers; polylysine; polyethylenimine; polyamidoamine; biopolymers