Successful gene therapy depends on the development of efficient and cell-specific gene delivery systems. Currently, animal viral vectors have been mostly used for in vivo and in clinical trials owing to their high transduction efficiency. However, they suffer from numerous limitations such as biosafety, immunogenicity, gene packaging capacity, complicated production and cell specificity. Therefore non-viral vectors are attractive alternatives to viral gene delivery systems due to their low toxicity, relatively easy production and greater diversity. Among non-viral vectors, chitosan and chitosan derivatives have been extensively utilized as gene carriers owing to their low immunogenicity, biocompatibility, biodegradability, low toxicity and ease of chemical modifications. However, low transfection efficiency of DNA (or low gene silencing of siRNA) and low cell specificity of chitosan should be overcome before clinical trials. The objective of this review is to summarize several parameters affecting the transfection efficiency of DNA (or gene silencing of siRNA) for the promising use of chitosan as gene carriers. Besides, chemical modifications of chitosan with pH-sensitive molecules and specific ligands so as to enhance the transfection efficiency of DNA (or gene silencing of siRNA) and cell specificity will be covered.
Research. Development. Production.