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Keywords:

  • carbohydrate;
  • chemical structure;
  • drug delivery/ADMET;
  • lipid;
  • Nanotechnology (drug discovery);
  • nucleic acid;
  • RNAi and antisense techniques

To deliver siRNA for therapeutic use, several hurdles must be addressed. Metabolic degradation must be blocked, and the RNAi cellular machinery is located in the cytoplasm, while double-stranded siRNA is large, highly charged and impermeable to cell membranes. To date, the solutions to the delivery issues have mostly involved different forms of lipid particle encapsulation. Cell-penetrating peptides and their mimics or analogues offer a different approach and this is an emerging field with the first in vivo examples now reported. Recent reports point to lipid receptors being involved in the cellular uptake of both types of transporter. This review examines the delivery of siRNA with a focus on cell-penetrating peptides and their small molecule and oligomeric mimics. The current status of siRNA delivery methods in clinical trials is examined. It now seems that the goal of delivering siRNA therapeutically is achievable but will they form part of a sustainable healthcare portfolio for the future.