bims-novged Biomed News
on Non-viral vectors for gene delivery
Issue of 2022‒04‒03
nine papers selected by
Benjamin Winkeljann
Ludwig-Maximilians University

  1. Front Chem. 2022 ;10 843181
      Single-stranded siRNA (ss-siRNA) refers to the antisense strand of siRNA, which plays the role of gene silencing. Since single-stranded RNA is unstable, the present study employed a homemade neutral cytidinyl/cationic lipid delivery system and chemical modifications to improve its stability. The results showed that with the aid of mixed lipids, ss-siRNA could knock down 40% of target mRNA at 25 nM. With 2'-F/2'-OMe, phosphorothioate and 5'-terminal phosphorylation, the optimized ss-siRNA could knock down 80% of target mRNA at 25 nM. Further knocking down AGO2, the ss-siRNAs could not effectively silence target mRNAs. Analysis of the biodistribution in vivo showed that ss-siRNA was less durable than siRNA, but spread more quickly to tissues. This study provides a safe and efficient ss-siRNA delivery and modification strategy, which lays the foundation for future works.
    Keywords:  biodistribution; chemical modification; gene silencing; neutral cytidinyl lipid; single-stranded siRNA
  2. Mol Pharm. 2022 Mar 29.
      RNA interference (RNAi) is a powerful tool capable of targeting virtually any protein without time-consuming and expensive drug development studies. However, due to obstacles facing efficient and safe delivery, RNAi-based therapeutic approach remains a challenge. Herein, we have designed and synthesized a number of disulfide-constraining cyclic and hybrid peptides using tryptophan and arginine residues. Our hypothesis was that peptide structures would undergo reduction by intracellular glutathione (more abundant in cancer cells) and unpack the small interfering RNA (siRNA) from the peptide/siRNA complexes. A subset of newly developed peptides (specifically, C4 and H4) exhibited effective cellular internalization of siRNA (∼70% of the cell population; monitored by flow cytometry and confocal microscopy), the capability of protecting siRNA against early degradation by nucleases (monitored by gel electrophoresis), minimal cytotoxicity in selected cell lines (studied by cell viability and LC50 calculations), and efficient protein silencing by 70-75% reduction in the expression of targeting signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) in human triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) MDA-MB-231 cells, analyzed using the Western blot technique. Our results indicate the birth of a promising new family of siRNA delivery systems that are capable of safe and efficient delivery, even in the presence of nucleases.
    Keywords:  STAT3; cyclic peptide; protein silencing; siRNA; triple-negative breast cancer
  3. Biomacromolecules. 2022 Apr 01.
      To date, the application of RNA therapeutics to hematologic malignancies has been challenging owing to the resistance of blood cancer cells against conventional transfection methods. Herein, triple-targeting moiety-functionalized polymeric small interfering RNA (siRNA) nanoparticles were systematically developed for efficient targeted delivery of RNA therapeutics to hematologic cancer cells. Polymeric siRNAs were synthesized using rolling circle transcription and were surface-functionalized with three types of targeting moieties─a natural ligand and two additional combinations of cell-specific antibodies─for tunable targetability. As a proof of concept, the optimization of the hyaluronic acid/antibody conjugation ratio was performed for selective intracellular delivery to various non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) cell lines (Daudi, Raji, Ramos, and Toledo cells) via receptor-mediated endocytosis. The engineered nanoparticles showed almost 10-fold enhanced NHL-specific intracellular delivery and induced significant in vitro anticancer effects. This multitargeted nanoparticle platform may effectively support the intracellular delivery of polymeric siRNA sequences, and thus promote therapeutic effects in hematopoietic malignancies.
  4. J Control Release. 2022 Mar 25. pii: S0168-3659(22)00180-8. [Epub ahead of print]
      The broad clinical application of mRNA therapeutics has been hampered by a lack of delivery vehicles that induce protein expression in extrahepatic organs and tissues. Recently, it was shown that mRNA delivery to the spleen or lungs is possible upon the addition of a charged lipid to a standard four-component lipid nanoparticle formulation. This approach, while effective, further complicates an already complex drug formulation and has the potential to slow regulatory approval and adversely impact manufacturing processes. We were thus motivated to maintain a four-component nanoparticle system while achieving shifts in tropism. To that end, we replaced the standard helper lipid in lipidoid nanoparticles, DOPE, with one of eight alternatives. These lipids included the neutral lipids, DOPC, sphingomyelin, and ceramide; the anionic lipids, phosphatidylserine (PS), phosphatidylglycerol, and phosphatidic acid; and the cationic lipids, DOTAP and ethyl phosphatidylcholine. While neutral helper lipids maintained protein expression in the liver, anionic and cationic lipids shifted protein expression to the spleen and lungs, respectively. For example, replacing DOPE with DOTAP increased positive LNP surface charge at pH 7 by 5-fold and altered the ratio of liver to lung protein expression from 36:1 to 1:56. Similarly, replacing DOPE with PS reduced positive charge by half and altered the ratio of liver to spleen protein expression from 8:1 to 1:3. Effects were consistent across ionizable lipidoid chemistries. Regarding mechanism, nanoparticles formulated with neutral and anionic helper lipids best transfected epithelial and immune cells, respectively. Further, the lung-tropic effect of DOTAP was linked to reduced immune cell infiltration of the lungs compared to neutral or anionic lipids. Together, these data show that intravenous non-hepatocellular mRNA delivery is readily achievable while maintaining a four-component formulation with modified helper lipid chemistry.
    Keywords:  Charge; Extrahepatic; Helper lipids; Lipid nanoparticles; Targeted delivery; mRNA delivery
  5. Small. 2022 Mar 30. e2107768
      Formulations based on ionizable amino-lipids have been put into focus as nucleic acid delivery systems. Recently, the in vitro efficacy of the lipid formulation OH4:DOPE has been explored. However, in vitro performance of nanomedicines cannot correctly predict in vivo efficacy, thereby considerably limiting pre-clinical translation. This is further exacerbated by limited access to mammalian models. The present work proposes to close this gap by investigating in vivo nucleic acid delivery within simpler models, but which still offers physiologically complex environments and also adheres to the 3R guidelines (replace/reduce/refine) to improve animal experiments. The efficacy of OH4:DOPE as a delivery system for nucleic acids is demonstrated using in vivo approaches. It is shown that the formulation is able to transfect complex tissues using the chicken chorioallantoic membrane model. The efficacy of DNA and mRNA lipoplexes is tested extensively in the zebra fish (Danio rerio) embryo which allows the screening of biodistribution and transfection efficiency. Effective transfection of blood vessel endothelial cells is seen, especially in the endocardium. Both model systems allow an efficacy screening according to the 3R guidelines bypassing the in vitro-in vivo gap. Pilot studies in mice are performed to correlate the efficacy of in vivo transfection.
    Keywords:  cationic lipids; ionizable lipids; lipid nanoparticles; mRNA-transfection; pDNA-transfection; zebrafish embryos
  6. J Control Release. 2022 Mar 29. pii: S0168-3659(22)00185-7. [Epub ahead of print]
      SARS-CoV-2 has been the cause of a global pandemic since 2019 and remains a medical urgency. siRNA-based therapies are a promising strategy to fight viral infections. By targeting a specific region of the viral genome, siRNAs can efficiently downregulate viral replication and suppress viral infection. However, to achieve the desired therapeutic activity, siRNA requires a suitable delivery system. The VIPER (virus-inspired polymer for endosomal release) block copolymer has been reported as promising delivery system for both plasmid DNA and siRNA in the past years. It is composed of a hydrophilic block for condensation of nucleic acids as well as a hydrophobic, pH-sensitive block that, at acidic pH, exposes the membrane lytic peptide melittin, which enhances endosomal escape. In this study, we aimed at developing a formulation for pulmonary administration of siRNA to suppress SARS-CoV-2 replication in lung epithelial cells. After characterizing siRNA/VIPER polyplexes, the activity and safety profile were confirmed in a lung epithelial cell line. To further investigate the activity of the polyplexes in a more sophisticated cell culture system, an air-liquid interface (ALI) culture was established. siRNA/VIPER polyplexes reached the cell monolayer and penetrated through the mucus layer secreted by the cells. Additionally, the activity against wild-type SARS-CoV-2 in the ALI model was confirmed by qRT-PCR. To investigate translatability of our findings, the activity against SARS-CoV-2 was tested ex vivo in human lung explants. Here, siRNA/VIPER polyplexes efficiently inhibited SARS-CoV-2 replication. Finally, we verified the delivery of siRNA/VIPER polyplexes to lung epithelial cells in vivo, which represent the main cellular target of viral infection in the lung. In conclusion, siRNA/VIPER polyplexes efficiently delivered siRNA to lung epithelial cells and mediated robust downregulation of viral replication both in vitro and ex vivo without toxic or immunogenic side effects in vivo, demonstrating the potential of local siRNA delivery as a promising antiviral therapy in the lung.
    Keywords:  Human precision-cut lung slices; Pulmonary delivery; RNA therapeutics; SARS-CoV-2; siRNA delivery
  7. bioRxiv. 2022 Mar 23. pii: 2022.03.22.485401. [Epub ahead of print]
      An inhalable platform for mRNA therapeutics would enable minimally invasive and lung targeted delivery for a host of pulmonary diseases. Development of lung targeted mRNA therapeutics has been limited by poor transfection efficiency and risk of vehicle-induced pathology. Here we report an inhalable polymer-based vehicle for delivery of therapeutic mRNAs to the lung. We optimized biodegradable poly(amine-co-ester) polyplexes for mRNA delivery using end group modifications and polyethylene glycol. Our polyplexes achieved high transfection of mRNA throughout the lung, particularly in epithelial and antigen-presenting cells. We applied this technology to develop a mucosal vaccine for SARS-CoV-2. Intranasal vaccination with spike protein mRNA polyplexes induced potent cellular and humoral adaptive immunity and protected K18-hACE2 mice from lethal viral challenge.One-sentence summary: Inhaled polymer nanoparticles (NPs) achieve high mRNA expression in the lung and induce protective immunity against SARS-CoV-2.
  8. J Control Release. 2022 Mar 28. pii: S0168-3659(22)00165-1. [Epub ahead of print]345 549-556
      The coronavirus pandemic has changed our perception of RNA medicines, and RNA vaccines have revolutionized our pandemic preparedness. But are we indeed prepared for the next variant or the next emerging virus? How can we prepare? And what does the role of inhaled antiviral RNA play in this regard? When the pandemic started, I rerouted much of the ongoing inhaled RNA delivery research in my group towards the inhibition and treatment of respiratory viral infections. Two years later, I have taken the literature, past and ongoing clinical trials into consideration and have gained new insights based on our collaborative research which I will discuss in this oration.
    Keywords:  COVID-19; Inhalation; Molecular dynamics simulations; SARS-CoV-2; siRNA
  9. J Nanobiotechnology. 2022 Mar 28. 20(1): 166
      The development of multidrug resistance (MDR) during cancer chemotherapy is a major challenge in current cancer treatment strategies. Numerous molecular mechanisms, including increased drug efflux, evasion of drug-induced apoptosis, and activation of DNA repair mechanisms, can drive chemotherapy resistance. Here we have identified the major vault protein (MVP) and the B-cell lymphoma-2 (BCL2) gene as two potential factors driving MDR in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). We have designed a novel and versatile self-assembling nanoparticle (NP) platform on a multifunctional carboxymethyl chitosan base to simultaneously deliver Adriamycin, and siRNAs targeting MVP and BCL2 (CEAMB NPs), thus reducing drug efflux and promoting apoptosis of esophageal cancer cells. To achieve effective delivery to tumor tissues and inhibit tumor growth in vivo, carboxymethyl chitosan was engineered to contain multiple histidines for enhanced cytosol delivery, cholesterol for improved self-assembly, and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) antibodies to target cancer cells. Our results indicate that these nanoparticles are efficiently synthesized with the desired chemical composition to self-assemble into cargo-containing NPs. Furthermore, we have shown that the synthesized NPs will successfully inhibit cancer cells growth and tumor development when delivered to cultured ESCC cells or to in vivo mouse xenograft models. Our engineered NPs offer a potential novel platform in treating various types of chemotherapy-resistant tumors.
    Keywords:  Chemotherapy; Esophageal cancer; Multidrug resistance; Tumor targeting; siRNA