Delivering therapeutic genes into cells and tissues is a critical step for gene therapy. The Wang group focus on non-viral vectors, or delivery systems, and know that the structure of the vector is an important factor in accessing the cells and tissues.
They particularly focus on polymer-based vectors, and has designed and synthesised new, 3D ‘single cyclized’ polymeric gene vectors with well-defined compositions and functionalities. They have been made using a one-step synthesis from readily available vinyl monomers.
The Wang group have seen that this single-chain polymer structure, which links to itself in a cyclic, knot-like structure, interacts differently with plasmid DNA compared to conventional vectors. When they tested the polymer-based delivery system with a range of cell types, the DNA was transferred effectively into cells and the cells survived well. These new knotted structures show high potential for gene delivery applications (figure 1) because they are easy to make and scale, and perform well 1, 2.
Figure 1: A new cyclic knot polymer structure consisting of single cyclised chain molecules in comparison to commercially available transfection agents with special emphasis on a comparative analysis with the dendrimer (SuperFect®).