Recently, chitosan has attracted significant attention in the formulation of small interfering RNA (siRNA). Because of its cationic nature, chitosan can easily complex siRNA, thus readily forming nanoparticles. Moreover, chitosan is biocompatible and biodegradable, which make it a good candidate for siRNA delivery in vivo. However, chitosan requires further development to achieve high efficiency. This review will describe the major barriers that impair the efficiency of the chitosan-based siRNA delivery systems, including the stability of the delivery system in biological fluids and endosomal escape. Several solutions to counteract these barriers have been developed and will be discussed. The parameters to consider for designing powerful delivery systems will be described, particularly the possibilities for grafting targeting ligands. Finally, optimized systems that allow in vivo therapeutic applications for both local and systemic delivery will be reviewed. This review will present recent improvements in chitosan-based siRNA delivery systems that overcome many of these system's previous pitfalls and pave the way to a new generation of siRNA delivery systems.
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