SiRNA delivery with functionalized carbon nanotubes

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Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have been studied for drug, antigen and nucleic acid delivery both in vitro and in vivo. Due to their nano-needle structure, they are supposed to cross the plasma membrane and enter directly into the cytoplasm likely upon an endocytosis-independent mechanism without inducing cell death. In this study, two cationically functionalized CNTs (CNT-PEI and CNT-pyridinium) were investigated for siRNA delivery. Both functionalized CNTs complexed siRNA and showed 10–30% silencing activity and a cytotoxicity of 10–60%. However, in terms of reduced toxicity or increased silencing activity, CNT-PEI and CNT-pyridinium did not show an added value over PEI and other standard transfection systems. Probably, the type of functionalization of carbon nanotubes might be a key parameter to obtain an efficient and non-cytotoxic CNT-based delivery system. Nevertheless, in view of the present results and importantly also of the non-degradability of CNTs, preference should currently be given to designing biodegradable carriers which mimic the needle structure of CNTs.

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