Strategies for cancer gene-delivery improvement by non-viral vectors
Lack of selectivity together with severe side effects in conventional cancer treatment have afforded the development of new strategies based on gene therapy. Nowadays, gene therapy is employed through both viral and non-viral vectors. In spite of the high transfection activity of viral vectors, some drawbacks have pointed out to non-viral vectors as a safer alternative. To overcome low efficiency as well as other issues associated with the use of non-viral vectors, complexes formed by lipids and polymers with DNA, named lipoplexes and polyplexes respectively, have been modified in order to improve its features. Suitability of cancer gene therapy also requires the capacity to distinguish between normal and tumoral cells. This requirement has been solved by the addition of specific ligands that enable receptor binding and subsequent endocytosis. In this article we review the most recent approaches in structure modification of non-viral vectors through different methods comprising conjugation, addition of helper lipids or changes in design and synthesis as well as the strategy based on exploiting receptors that are usually overexpressed in malignancies. Such improvements confer specificity, efficient gene delivery, condensation, protection of DNA and low levels of toxicity avoiding off-target effects which turn into a potential tool to treat cancer.