Investigation of a thiolated Polymer In Gene Delivery
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Thiol-containing bioreducible polymers show significant potential as delivery vectors in gene therapy, a rapidly growing field which seeks to treat genetic-based disorders by delivering functional synthetic genes to diseased cells. Studies have shown that thiolated polymers exhibit improved biodegradability and prolonged in vivo circulation times over non-thiolated polymers. However, the extent to which thiol concentrations impact the carrier's delivery potential has not been well explored. The aim of this dissertation is to investigate how relative concentrations of free thiols and disulfide crosslinks impact a polymeric carriers delivery performance with respect to DNA packaging, complex stability, cargo protection, gene release, internalization efficiency and cytotoxicity. To accomplish this goal, several fluorescent polymers containing varying concentrations of thiol groups were synthesized by conjugating thiol-pendant chains onto the primary amines of cationic poly(allylamine). In vitro delivery assays and characterization techniques were employed to assess the effect of thiols in gene delivery.