The combination of gene therapy with tissue engineering offers the potential to direct progenitor cell proliferation and differentiation into functional tissue replacements. Many approaches to engineering tissue replacements feature a polymer scaffold to create and maintain a space, support cell adhesion, and organize tissue formation. Polymer scaffolds, either natural, synthetic, or a combination of the two, have also been adapted to serve as delivery vehicles for viral and nonviral vectors, which can induce the expression of tissue inductive factors. Gene delivery is a versatile approach, capable of targeting any cellular process through localized expression of tissue inductive factors. The design and application of tissue engineering scaffolds for localized gene transfer are reviewed. Scaffolds are designed either to release the vector into the local tissue environment or maintain the vector at the polymer surface, which is regulated by the effective affinity of the vector for the polymer. Polymeric delivery can enhance gene transfer locally, promote and extend transgene expression, avoid vector distribution to distant tissues, and reduce the immune response to the vector. Scaffolds capable of controlled DNA delivery can provide a fundamental tool for directing progenitor cell function, which has applications with the engineering of numerous types of tissue. The utility of this approach will increase with the development of design parameters that correlate release and transgene expression, and with continued research into the biology of tissue formation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biomedical Engineering