Recent advances and applications of biomolecule-responsive hydrogels, namely, glucose-responsive hydrogels, protein-responsive hydrogels, and nucleic-acid-responsive hydrogels are highlighted. However, achieving the ultimate purpose of using biomolecule-responsive hydrogels in preclinical and clinical areas is still at the very early stage and calls for more novel designing concepts and advance ideas. On the way toward the real/clinical application of biomolecule-responsive hydrogels, plenty of factors should be extensively studied and examined under both in vitro and in vivo conditions. For example, biocompatibility, biointegration, and toxicity of biomolecule-responsive hydrogels should be carefully evaluated. From the living body's point of view, biocompatibility is seriously depended on the interactions at the tissue/polymer interface. These interactions are influenced by physical nature, chemical structure, surface properties, and degradation of the materials. In addition, the developments of advanced hydrogels with tunable biological and mechanical properties which cause no/low side effects are of great importance.
The development of biological methods over the past decade has stimulated great interest in the possibility to regenerate human tissues. Advances in stem cell research, gene therapy, and tissue engineering have accelerated the technology in tissue and organ regeneration. However, despite significant progress in this area, there are still several technical issues that must be addressed, especially in the clinical use of gene therapy. The aims of gene therapy include utilising cells to produce a suitable protein, silencing over-producing proteins, and genetically modifying and repairing cell functions that may affect disease conditions. While most current gene therapy clinical trials are based on cell- and viral-mediated approaches, non-viral gene transfection agents are emerging as potentially safe and effective in the treatment of a wide variety of genetic and acquired diseases. Gene therapy based on viral vectors may induce pathogenicity and immunogenicity. Therefore, significant efforts are being invested in non-viral vectors to enhance their efficiency to a level comparable to the viral vector. Non-viral technologies consist of plasmid-based expression systems containing a gene encoding, a therapeutic protein, and synthetic gene delivery systems. One possible approach to enhance non-viral vector ability or to be an alternative to viral vectors would be to use tissue engineering technology for regenerative medicine therapy. This review provides a critical view of gene therapy with a major focus on the development of regenerative medicine technologies to control the in vivo location and function of administered genes.
Leukemic cells are hard-to-transfect cell lines. Many transfection reagents which can provide high gene transfer efficiency in common adherent cell lines are not effective to transfect established blood cell lines or primary leukemic cells. This study aims to examine a new class of cationic polymer non-viral vector, PEGylated-dextran-spermine (PEG-D-SPM), to determine its ability to transfect the leukemic cells. Here, the optimal conditions of the complex preparation (PEG-D-SPM/plasmid DNA (pDNA)) were examined. Different weight-mixing (w/w) ratios of PEG-D-SPM/pDNA complex were prepared to obtain an ideal mixing ratio to protect encapsulated pDNA from DNase degradation and to determine the optimal transfection efficiency of the complex. Strong complexation between polymer and pDNA in agarose gel electrophoresis and protection of pDNA from DNase were detected at ratios from 25 to 15. Highest gene expression was detected at w/w ratio of 18 in HL60 and K562 cells. However, gene expression from both leukemic cell lines was lower than the control MCF-7 cells. The cytotoxicity of PEG-D-SPM/pDNA complex at the most optimal mixing ratios was tested in HL60 and K562 cells using MTS assay and the results showed that the PEG-D-SPM/pDNA complex had no cytotoxic effect on these cell lines. Spherical shape and nano-nature of PEG-D-SPM/pDNA complex at ratio 18 was observed using transmission electron microscopy. As PEG-D-SPM showed modest transfection efficiency in the leukemic cell lines, we conclude that further work is needed to improve the delivery efficiency of the PEG-D-SPM.
The failure of colorectal cancer treatments is partly due to overexpression of CXCR4 by tumor cells, which plays a critical role in cell metastasis. Moreover, serum alkaline phosphatase (ALP) levels are frequently elevated in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer. A polysaccharide, dextran, was chosen as the vector of siRNA. Spermine was conjugated to oxidized dextran by reductive amination process to obtain cationized dextran, so-called dextran-spermine, in order to prepare CXCR4-siRNAs/dextran-spermine nanoparticles. The fabricated nanoparticles were used in order to investigate whether downregulation of CXCR4 expression could affect serum ALP in mouse models of colorectal cancer.
Liver metastasis is the main cause of mortality related to colorectal cancer. CXCR4 is necessary for the outgrowth of colon cancer micrometastases. In oncology, it has been demonstrated that several human tumors release lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) into the circulation. CXCR4 gene expression and serum LDH levels are often increased in patients with colorectal cancer. Despite technological advances in cancer therapy, five-year overall survival is still around 50%. Therefore, better treatment needs to be developed. RNA interference (RNAi) is a modern and powerful tool for inhibition of gene expression. However, the rate-limiting step in this technology is effective delivery of RNAi agents. We have investigated a novel strategy of CXCR4 siRNA therapy and its effect on serum LDH levels in a BALB/C mouse model of colorectal cancer metastasis to the liver. Hepatic metastasis was established by injecting a CT26.WT mouse colon carcinoma cell line via the tail vein. Our results demonstrated that CXCR4 siRNA/ dextran-spermine nanoparticles achieved high silencing efficiency with low toxicity. Favorable localization of the nanoparticles was confirmed with CXCR4 gene expression in the liver, that was correlated with serum LDH levels. More research will be needed to determine the effect of CXCR4 silencing on serum LDH levels, which may be a useful marker for predicting liver metastasis in colorectal cancer.
A novel cationic polymer, dextran-spermine (D-SPM), has been found to mediate gene expression in a wide variety of cell lines and in vivo through systemic delivery. Here, we extended the observations by determining the optimal conditions for gene expression of D-SPM/plasmid DNA (D-SPM/pDNA) in cell lines and in the lungs of BALB/c mice via instillation delivery. In vitro studies showed that D-SPM could partially protect pDNA from degradation by nuclease and exhibited optimal gene transfer efficiency at D-SPM to pDNA weight-mixing ratio of 12. In the lungs of mice, the levels of gene expression generated by D-SPM/pDNA are highly dependent on the weight-mixing ratio of D-SPM to pDNA, amount of pDNA in the complex, and the assay time postdelivery. Readministration of the complex at day 1 following the first dosing showed no significant effect on the retention and duration of gene expression. The study also showed that there was a clear trend of increasing size of the complexes as the amount of pDNA was increased, where the sizes of the D-SPM/pDNA complexes were within the nanometer range.