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      Polymer systems for gene delivery—Past, present, and future

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      Progress in Polymer Science

      Elsevier BV

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          Regulated portals of entry into the cell.

          The plasma membrane is the interface between cells and their harsh environment. Uptake of nutrients and all communication among cells and between cells and their environment occurs through this interface. 'Endocytosis' encompasses several diverse mechanisms by which cells internalize macromolecules and particles into transport vesicles derived from the plasma membrane. It controls entry into the cell and has a crucial role in development, the immune response, neurotransmission, intercellular communication, signal transduction, and cellular and organismal homeostasis. As the complexity of molecular interactions governing endocytosis are revealed, it has become increasingly clear that it is tightly coordinated and coupled with overall cell physiology and thus, must be viewed in a broader context than simple vesicular trafficking.
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            In vitro cytotoxicity testing of polycations: influence of polymer structure on cell viability and hemolysis.

            A comparative in vitro cytotoxicity study with different water-soluble, cationic macromolecules which have been described as gene delivery systems was performed. Cytotoxicity in L929 mouse fibroblasts was monitored using the MTT assay and the release of the cytosolic enzyme lactate dehydrogenase (LDH). Microscopic observations were carried out as indicators for cell viability. Furthermore, hemolysis of erythrocytes was quantified spectrophotometrically. To determine the nature of cell death induced by the polycations, the nuclear morphology after DAPI staining and the inhibition of the toxic effects by the caspase inhibitor zVAD.fmk were investigated. All assays yielded comparable results and allowed the following ranking of the polymers with regard to cytotoxicity: Poly(ethylenimine)=poly(L-lysine)>poly(diallyl-dimethyl-ammonium chloride)>diethylaminoethyl-dextran>poly(vinyl pyridinium bromide)>Starburst dendrimer>cationized albumin>native albumin. The magnitude of the cytotoxic effects of all polymers were found to be time- and concentration dependent. The molecular weight as well as the cationic charge density of the polycations were confirmed as key parameters for the interaction with the cell membranes and consequently, the cell damage. Evaluating the nature of cell death induced by poly(ethylenimine), we did not detect any indication for apoptosis suggesting that the polymer induced a necrotic cell reaction. Cell nuclei retained their size, chromatin was homogenously distributed and cell membranes lost their integrity very rapidly at an early stage. Furthermore, the broad spectrum caspase inhibitor zVAD.fmk did not inhibit poly(ethylenimine)-induced cell damage. Insights into the structure-toxicity relationship are necessary to optimize the cytotoxicity and biocompatibility of non-viral gene delivery systems.
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              Gene therapy of human severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID)-X1 disease.

              Severe combined immunodeficiency-X1 (SCID-X1) is an X-linked inherited disorder characterized by an early block in T and natural killer (NK) lymphocyte differentiation. This block is caused by mutations of the gene encoding the gammac cytokine receptor subunit of interleukin-2, -4, -7, -9, and -15 receptors, which participates in the delivery of growth, survival, and differentiation signals to early lymphoid progenitors. After preclinical studies, a gene therapy trial for SCID-X1 was initiated, based on the use of complementary DNA containing a defective gammac Moloney retrovirus-derived vector and ex vivo infection of CD34+ cells. After a 10-month follow-up period, gammac transgene-expressing T and NK cells were detected in two patients. T, B, and NK cell counts and function, including antigen-specific responses, were comparable to those of age-matched controls. Thus, gene therapy was able to provide full correction of disease phenotype and, hence, clinical benefit.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Progress in Polymer Science
                Progress in Polymer Science
                Elsevier BV
                00796700
                August 2007
                August 2007
                : 32
                : 8-9
                : 799-837
                Article
                10.1016/j.progpolymsci.2007.05.007
                © 2007

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