Degradation and protection of DNAzymes on human skin

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DNAzymes are catalytic nucleic acid based molecules that have become a new class of active pharmaceutical ingredients (API). Until now, five DNAzymes have entered clinical trials. Two of them were tested for topical application, whereby dermally applied DNAzymes had been prone to enzymatic degradation. To protect the DNAzymes the enzymatic activity of human skin has to be examined. Therefore, the enzymatic activity of human skin was qualitatively and quantitatively analyzed. Activity similar to that of DNase II could be identified and the specific activity was determined to be 0.59 Units/mg. These results were used to develop an in vitro degradation assay to screen different kinds of protective systems on human skin. The chosen protective systems consisted of biodegradable chitosans or polyethylenimine, which forms polyplexes when combined with DNAzymes. The polyplexes were characterized in terms of particle size, zeta potential, stability and degree of complexation. The screening revealed that the protective efficiency of the polyplexes depended on the polycation and the charge ratio (ξ). At a critical ξ ratio between 1.0 and 4.1 and at a maximal zeta potential, sufficient protection of the DNAzyme was achieved. The results of this study will be helpful for the development of a protective dermal drug delivery systems using polyplexes.

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