bims-novged Biomed News
on Non-viral vectors for gene delivery
Issue of 2021‒07‒04
fourteen papers selected by
Benjamin Winkeljann
Ludwig-Maximilians University

  1. J Control Release. 2021 Jun 23. pii: S0168-3659(21)00317-5. [Epub ahead of print]336 296-309
      The rapid development of gene therapy and genome editing techniques brings up an urgent need to develop safe and efficient nanoplatforms for nucleic acids and CRISPR genome editors. Herein we report a stimulus-responsive silica nanoparticle (SNP) capable of encapsulating biomacromolecules in their active forms with a high loading content and loading efficiency as well as a well-controlled nanoparticle size (~50 nm). A disulfide crosslinker was integrated into the silica network, endowing SNP with glutathione (GSH)-responsive cargo release capability when internalized by target cells. An imidazole-containing component was incorporated into the SNP to enhance the endosomal escape capability. The SNP can deliver various cargos, including nucleic acids (e.g., DNA and mRNA) and CRISPR genome editors (e.g., Cas9/sgRNA ribonucleoprotein (RNP), and RNP with donor DNA) with excellent efficiency and biocompatibility. The SNP surface can be PEGylated and functionalized with different targeting ligands. In vivo studies showed that subretinally injected SNP conjugated with all-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA) and intravenously injected SNP conjugated with GalNAc can effectively deliver mRNA and RNP to murine retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells and liver cells, respectively, leading to efficient genome editing. Overall, the SNP is a promising nanoplatform for various applications including gene therapy and genome editing.
    Keywords:  CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing; Gene delivery; Silica nanoparticle
  2. Biomater Sci. 2021 Jun 28.
      RNA interference (RNAi) technology has great potential in cancer therapy, e.g., small interfering RNA (siRNA) can be exploited to silence specific oncogenes related to tumor growth and progression. However, it is critical to achieve high transfection efficiency while reducing cytotoxicity. In this paper, we report an siRNA delivery strategy targeting the oncogene KRAS based on arginine-modified poly(disulfide amine)/siRNA nanocomplexes. The poly(disulfide amine) is synthesized via aza-Michael polyaddition followed by the introduction of arginine groups onto its backbone to afford poly((N,N'-bis(acryloyl)cystamine-co-ethylenediamine)-g-Nω-p-tosyl-l-arginine) (PBR) polycations. Thus multiple interactions including electrostatic interaction, hydrogen bonding and a hydrophobic effect are introduced simultaneously between PBR and siRNA or cell membranes to improve transfection efficiency. By optimizing the grafting density of arginine groups, PBR/siRNA nanocomplexes achieve high cellular uptake efficiency, successful endosomal/lysosomal escape, and rapid biodegradation in the presence of high GSH concentration in the cytoplasm, and finally release siRNA to activate the RNAi mechanism. Additionally, compared to commercially available PEI 25K, PBR/siRNA nanocomplexes possess a significantly increased gene silencing effect on human pancreatic cancer cells (PANC-1) with decreased cytotoxicity and enhanced tumor penetration ability in PANC-1 multicellular spheroids in vitro. Overall, with both GSH-responsiveness and excellent tumor penetration, this safe and efficient poly(disulfide amine)-based siRNA delivery system is expected to provide a new strategy for gene therapy of pancreatic cancer and other stromal-rich tumors.
  3. Nano Lett. 2021 Jun 30.
      A major challenge to advance lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) for RNA therapeutics is the development of formulations that can be produced reliably across the various scales of drug development. Microfluidics can generate LNPs with precisely defined properties, but have been limited by challenges in scaling throughput. To address this challenge, we present a scalable, parallelized microfluidic device (PMD) that incorporates an array of 128 mixing channels that operate simultaneously. The PMD achieves a >100× production rate compared to single microfluidic channels, without sacrificing desirable LNP physical properties and potency typical of microfluidic-generated LNPs. In mice, we show superior delivery of LNPs encapsulating either Factor VII siRNA or luciferase-encoding mRNA generated using a PMD compared to conventional mixing, with a 4-fold increase in hepatic gene silencing and 5-fold increase in luciferase expression, respectively. These results suggest that this PMD can generate scalable and reproducible LNP formulations needed for emerging clinical applications, including RNA therapeutics and vaccines.
    Keywords:  gene therapy; lipid nanoparticles; mRNA; siRNA
  4. Nanomaterials (Basel). 2021 Jun 22. pii: 1640. [Epub ahead of print]11(7):
      Gene therapy is used to correct or compensate for diseases caused by gene defects and abnormalities. Improving the transfection efficiency and reducing the toxicity of gene carriers are the keys to gene therapy. Similar to a typical cationic gene carrier-polyethylenimine (PEI, 25 kDa)-the polyamidoamine (PAMAM) dendrimer also has a large number of amino groups. These amino groups can be complexed with nucleic acids after protonation under physiological conditions. However, the concentrated positive charge can cause undesirable cytotoxicity. Cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) have good biocompatibility and unique needle-like morphology, and have been proven to be efficiently taken up by cells. In this article, three-dimensional spherical PMAMA dendrimers are conjugated onto the surface of CNCs to obtain a kind of needle-like cationic carrier (CNC-PAMAM). PAMAM dendrimers act as anchors to bind the plasmid DNAs (pDNA) to the surface of the CNC. The prepared CNC-based carrier showed high transfection efficiency and low toxicity. The CNC-PAMAM can effectively deliver the suicide gene to the tumor site, enabling the suicide gene/prodrug system (cytosine deaminase/5-fluorocytosine (CD/5-FC)) to play an effective anti-tumor role in vivo. This research demonstrates that the functionalization of CNCs with PAMAM dendrimers is an effective method for developing novel gene delivery systems.
    Keywords:  PAMAM dendrimer; cationic gene carrier; cellulose nanocrystals; gene therapy; gene transfection
  5. Polymers (Basel). 2021 Jun 01. pii: 1836. [Epub ahead of print]13(11):
      A mitochondrion is a cellular organelle able to produce cellular energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). As in the nucleus, mitochondria contain their own genome: the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). This genome is particularly susceptible to mutations that are at the basis of a multitude of disorders, especially those affecting the heart, the central nervous system and muscles. Conventional clinical practice applied to mitochondrial diseases is very limited and ineffective; a clear need for innovative therapies is demonstrated. Gene therapy seems to be a promising approach. The use of mitochondrial DNA as a therapeutic, optimized by peptide-based complexes with mitochondrial targeting, can be seen as a powerful tool in the reestablishment of normal mitochondrial function. In line with this requirement, in this work and for the first time, a mitochondrial-targeting sequence (MTS) has been incorporated into previously researched peptides, to confer on them a targeting ability. These peptides were then considered to complex a plasmid DNA (pDNA) which contains the mitochondrial gene ND1 (mitochondrially encoded NADH dehydrogenase 1 protein), aiming at the formation of peptide-based nanoparticles. Currently, the ND1 plasmid is one of the most advanced bioengineered vectors for conducting research on mitochondrial gene expression. The formed complexes were characterized in terms of pDNA complexation capacity, morphology, size, surface charge and cytotoxic profile. These data revealed that the developed carriers possess suitable properties for pDNA delivery. Furthermore, in vitro studies illustrated the mitochondrial targeting ability of the novel peptide/pDNA complexes. A comparison between the different complexes revealed the most promising ones that complex pDNA and target mitochondria. This may contribute to the optimization of peptide-based non-viral systems to target mitochondria, instigating progress in mitochondrial gene therapy.
    Keywords:  biocompatibility; cell-penetrating peptides; mitochondria targeting; mitochondrial DNA diseases; nano-delivery systems; plasmid DNA
  6. ACS Nano. 2021 Jun 28.
      Lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) have emerged across the pharmaceutical industry as promising vehicles to deliver a variety of therapeutics. Currently in the spotlight as vital components of the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines, LNPs play a key role in effectively protecting and transporting mRNA to cells. Liposomes, an early version of LNPs, are a versatile nanomedicine delivery platform. A number of liposomal drugs have been approved and applied to medical practice. Subsequent generations of lipid nanocarriers, such as solid lipid nanoparticles, nanostructured lipid carriers, and cationic lipid-nucleic acid complexes, exhibit more complex architectures and enhanced physical stabilities. With their ability to encapsulate and deliver therapeutics to specific locations within the body and to release their contents at a desired time, LNPs provide a valuable platform for treatment of a variety of diseases. Here, we present a landscape of LNP-related scientific publications, including patents and journal articles, based on analysis of the CAS Content Collection, the largest human-curated collection of published scientific knowledge. Rising trends are identified, such as nanostructured lipid carriers and solid lipid nanoparticles becoming the preferred platforms for numerous formulations. Recent advancements in LNP formulations as drug delivery platforms, such as antitumor and nucleic acid therapeutics and vaccine delivery systems, are discussed. Challenges and growth opportunities are also evaluated in other areas, such as medical imaging, cosmetics, nutrition, and agrochemicals. This report is intended to serve as a useful resource for those interested in LNP nanotechnologies, their applications, and the global research effort for their development.
    Keywords:  cationic lipid; drug delivery; immunoliposome; lipid nanoparticle; liposome; nanostructured lipid carrier; solid lipid nanoparticle; “stealth” liposome
  7. bioRxiv. 2021 Jun 23. pii: 2021.06.23.449544. [Epub ahead of print]
      A lipid nanoparticle (LNP) formulation is a state-of-the-art delivery system for genetic drugs such as DNA, mRNA, and siRNA, which is successfully applied to COVID-19 vaccines and gains tremendous interest in therapeutic applications. Despite its importance, a molecular-level understanding of the LNP structures and dynamics is still lacking, which makes a rational LNP design almost impossible. In this work, we present an extension of CHARMM-GUI Membrane Builder to model and simulate all-atom LNPs with various (ionizable) cationic lipids and PEGylated lipids (PEG-lipids). These new lipid types can be mixed with any existing lipid types with or without a biomolecule of interest, and the generated systems can be simulated using various molecular dynamics engines. As a first illustration, we considered model LNP membranes with DLin-KC2-DMA (KC2) or DLin-MC3-DMA (MC3) without PEG-lipids. The results from these model membranes are consistent with those from the two previous studies albeit with mild accumulation of neutral MC3 in the bilayer center. To demonstrate Membrane Builder ’s capability of building a realistic LNP patch, we generated KC2- or MC3-containing LNP membranes with high concentrations of cholesterol and ionizable cationic lipids together with 2 mol% PEG-lipids. We observe that PEG-chains are flexible, which can be more preferentially extended laterally in the presence of cationic lipids due to the attractive interactions between their head groups and PEG oxygen. The presence of PEG-lipids also relaxes the lateral packing in LNP membranes, and the area compressibility modulus ( K A ) of LNP membranes with cationic lipids fit into typical K A of fluid-phase membranes. Interestingly, the interactions between PEG oxygen and head group of ionizable cationic lipids induce a negative curvature. We hope that this LNP capability in Membrane Builder can be useful to better characterize various LNPs with or without genetic drugs for a rational LNP design.
  8. Nanomaterials (Basel). 2021 Jun 05. pii: 1498. [Epub ahead of print]11(6):
      The design of nanovectors able to overcome biological barriers is one of the main challenges in biomedicine. Gemini cationic lipids are considered potential candidates for gene therapy due to their high biocompatibility and capacity to condense nucleic acids safely in the form of lipoplexes. However, this approach presents difficulties regarding genetic unpacking and, therefore, control over this process becomes crucial to ensure successful transfection. In this work, gemini cationic lipoplexes were prepared in the presence of plasmonic gold nanostars (AuNSs) to afford a nanovector that efficiently releases plasmid DNA (pDNA) upon irradiation with near-infrared femtosecond laser pulses. A critical AuNSs concentration of 50 pM and optimized laser power density of 400 mW led to successful pDNA release, whose efficiency could be further improved by increasing the irradiation time. Agarose gel electrophoresis was used to confirm pDNA release. UV-Vis-NIR spectroscopy and transmission electron microscopy studies were performed to monitor changes in the morphology of the AuNSs and lipoplexes after irradiation. From a physicochemical point of view, this study demonstrates that the use of AuNSs combined with gemini cationic lipoplexes allows control over pDNA release under ultrafast laser irradiation.
    Keywords:  femtosecond pulse laser; gene release-assisted; gold nanostars; lipoplexes
  9. Pharmaceutics. 2021 Jun 08. pii: 845. [Epub ahead of print]13(6):
      Since the possibility of silencing specific genes linked to retinal degeneration has become a reality with the use of small interfering RNAs (siRNAs), this technology has been widely studied to promote the treatment of several ocular diseases. Despite recent advances, the clinical success of gene silencing in the retina is significantly reduced by inherent anatomical and physiological ocular barriers, and new strategies are required to achieve intraocular therapeutic effectiveness. In this study, we developed lipoplexes, prepared with sodium alginate as an adjuvant and strategically coated with hyaluronic acid (HA-LIP), and investigated the potential neuroprotective effect of these systems in a retinal light damage model. Successful functionalization of the lipoplexes with hyaluronic acid was indicated in the dynamic light scattering and transmission electron microscopy results. Moreover, these HA-LIP nanoparticles were able to protect and deliver siRNA molecules targeting caspase-3 into the retina. After retinal degeneration induced by high light exposure, in vitro and in vivo quantitative reverse transcription-PCR (RT-qPCR) assays demonstrated significant inhibition of caspase-3 expression by HA-LIP. Furthermore, these systems were shown to be safe, as no evidence of retinal toxicity was observed by electroretinography, clinical evaluation or histology.
    Keywords:  caspase-3; hyaluronic acid; intravitreal administration; lipoplexes; retinal neuroprotection; siRNA
  10. Int J Pharm. 2021 Jun 24. pii: S0378-5173(21)00636-0. [Epub ahead of print] 120831
      Gene therapy and more recently, gene editing is attractive via pulmonary delivery for enhanced regional targeting. However, processing of sensitive therapeutics into dry powders for inhalation can be problematic due to relatively stressful spraying or milling steps. Thin-film freezing-drying (TFFD) has attracted attention with its promising application in the production of DPI formulations possessing respirable particle size range (1-5 µm) particularly for thermally or shear sensitive therapeutics. In this study, gene editing dry powder formulations containing PEGylated chitosan/CRISPR-Cas9 nanocomplexes were prepared by TFFD. To evaluate stability during processing, nanocomplex size, zeta potential and transfection efficiency of reconstituted formulations were evaluated, and six potential DPI formulations were identified and characterized in terms of geometric particle size, powder surface morphology, and crystallinity. It was found that two formulations containing 3% mannitol with or without leucine were identified as suitable for inhalation with a desired aerodynamic performance. The flow rate dependency and inhaler dependency of these two formulations were also evaluated at different flow rates (60 L/min and 45 L/min) and different inhaler devices (RS01 DPI and HandiHaler) using NGI testing. This study demonstrated that TFFD processing of CRISPR-Cas9 polymer nanocomplexes resulted in a suitable dry powder for inhalation.
    Keywords:  CRISPR-Cas9; PEGylated chitosan; dry powder; nanoparticle; pulmonary delivery; thin-film freeze-drying
  11. Mol Pharm. 2021 Jun 30.
      Muscle atrophy usually occurs under mechanical unloading, which increases the risk of injury to reduce the functionality of the moving system, while there is still no effective therapy until now. It was found that miR-194 was significantly downregulated in a muscle atrophy model, and its target protein was the myocyte enhancer factor 2C (MEF2C). miR-194 could promote muscle differentiation and also inhibit ubiquitin ligases, thus miR-194 could be used as a nucleic acid drug to treat muscle atrophy, whereas miRNA was unstable in vivo, limiting its application as a therapeutic drug. A gelatin nanosphere (GN) delivery system was applied for the first time to load exogenous miRNA here. Exogenous miR-194 was loaded in GNs and injected into the muscle atrophy model. It demonstrated that the muscle fiber cross-sectional area, in situ muscle contractile properties, and myogenic markers were increased significantly after treatment. It proposed miR-194 loaded in GNs as an effective treatment for muscle atrophy by promoting muscle differentiation and inhibiting ubiquitin ligase activity. Moreover, the developed miRNA delivery system, taking advantage of its tunable composition, degradation rate, and capacity to load various drug molecules with high dosage, is considered a promising platform to achieve precise treatment of muscle atrophy-related diseases.
    Keywords:  MEF2C; drug delivery; mechanical unloading environment; miR-194; muscle atrophy
  12. Adv Healthc Mater. 2021 Jul 01. e2100833
      T cell exhaustion, in which dysfunctional T cells are limited in cytokine release and constrained in immune response, leads to immune escape of cancer cells and decreased efficiency of cancer immunotherapy. Direct regulation or blocking of programmed death 1 (PD-1) represents a promising strategy to overcome T cell exhaustion for reinvigorating anticancer immunity. Here, the construction of a 1,3-propanesultone (1,3-PS)-grafted zwitterionic dendrimer-entrapped gold nanoparticle platform chelated with Gd(III) (Gd-Au DENP-PS) for immune checkpoint modulation is reported. The developed Gd-Au DENP-PS possesses good stability, antifouling property, biocompatibility, and dual-mode computed tomography (CT)/magnetic resonance (MR) imaging functions, and allows for efficient packaging and serum-enhanced delivery of PD-1 siRNA to mediate PD-1 gene silencing in T cells in vitro, and also in vivo in a melanoma-bearing mouse model and in healthy aging mice. The dendrimer nanocomplexes or T cell-laden nanocomplexes enable suppression of tumor growth through the generation of significant effector CD8+ and CD4+ T cells, and the tumor immunotherapeutic potency can be further improved by combination with an indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase inhibitor. This study identifies a new possibility with a functional dendrimer-based nanohybrid platform for dual-mode CT/MR imaging-guided cancer immunotherapy via the regulation of T cell exhaustion.
    Keywords:  T cells; dendrimers; gene silencing; immune checkpoint blockades; tumor immunotherapy
  13. Pharmaceutics. 2021 Jun 14. pii: 878. [Epub ahead of print]13(6):
      The toolbox for genetic engineering has quickly evolved from CRISPR/Cas9 to a myriad of different gene editors, each with promising properties and enormous clinical potential. However, a major challenge remains: delivering the CRISPR machinery to the nucleus of recipient cells in a nontoxic and efficient manner. In this article, we repurpose an RNA-delivering cell-penetrating peptide, PepFect14 (PF14), to deliver Cas9 ribonucleoprotein (RNP). The RNP-CPP complex achieved high editing rates, e.g., up to 80% in HEK293T cells, while being active at low nanomolar ranges without any apparent signs of toxicity. The editing efficiency was similar to or better compared to the commercially available reagents RNAiMAX and CRISPRMax. The efficiency was thoroughly evaluated in reporter cells and wild-type cells by restriction enzyme digest and next-generation sequencing. Furthermore, the CPP-Cas9-RNP complexes were demonstrated to withstand storage at different conditions, including freeze-thaw cycles and freeze-drying, without a loss in editing efficiency. This CPP-based delivery strategy complements existing technologies and further opens up new opportunities for Cas9 RNP delivery, which can likely be extended to other gene editors in the future.
    Keywords:  CRISPR/Cas9; PepFect14; RNP; cell-penetrating peptide (CPP); drug delivery; gene editing; nanoparticle; non-viral
  14. Pharmaceutics. 2021 Jun 17. pii: 900. [Epub ahead of print]13(6):
      Messenger RNA (mRNA) is not an attractive candidate for gene therapy due to its instability and has therefore received little attention. Recent studies show the advantage of mRNA over DNA, especially in cancer immunotherapy and vaccine development. This study aimed to formulate folic-acid-(FA)-modified, poly-amidoamine-generation-5 (PAMAM G5D)-grafted gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) and to evaluate their cytotoxicity and transgene expression using the luciferase reporter gene (FLuc-mRNA) in vitro. Nanocomplexes were spherical and of favorable size. Nanocomplexes at optimum nanoparticle:mRNA (w/w) binding ratios showed good protection of the bound mRNA against nucleases and were well tolerated in all cell lines. Transgene expression was significantly (p < 0.0001) higher with FA-targeted, dendrimer-grafted AuNPs (Au:G5D:FA) in FA receptors overexpressing MCF-7 and KB cells compared to the G5D and G5D:FA NPs, decreasing significantly (p < 0.01) in the presence of excess competing FA ligand, which confirmed nanocomplex uptake via receptor mediation. Overall, transgene expression of the Au:G5D and Au:G5D:FA nanocomplexes exceeded that of G5D and G5D:FA nanocomplexes, indicating the pivotal role played by the inclusion of the AuNP delivery system. The favorable properties imparted by the AuNPs potentiated an increased level of luciferase gene expression.
    Keywords:  PAMAM dendrimers; folic acid; gene expression; gold nanoparticles; mRNA