Assistant Professor, Dept. Chemistry, Materials and Chemical Engineering “G. Natta” Politecnico di Milan, ITALY

Host: S. Zacchigna

Innovative strategies for non-viral gene delivery: from chemistry to mechanobiology

The recent success of non-viral gene delivery-based COVID-19 vaccines has led to increased public acceptance of nanovectors and their prominence in advanced therapies. However, the limited ability of these vectors to overcome cellular barriers significantly hampers their effectiveness. Consequently, scientists are diligently working towards developing more effective gene delivery vectors, although the current results are still unsatisfactory. Hence, the need to develop novel strategies becomes paramount in order to bring about substantial improvements. In pursuit of this objective, my research activities have focused on tackling the delivery issue from two distinct perspectives.

Firstly, I have explored the modulation of vector chemistry to develop multifunctional carriers with enhanced effectiveness. This entails investigating the impact of vector chemistry on the structure-function relationship of materials, with a specific emphasis on lipid-based carriers. By understanding the importance of vector chemistry, we can strive to optimize these carriers and improve their performance as non-viral gene delivery vehicles. Secondly, I have been involved in pioneering approaches developed within our laboratories to enhance interactions between cells and (nano)particles through the mechanical modulation of cell behavior in response to non-viral vectors. This approach involves manipulating cellular behavior to improve the uptake and response to these vectors. By delving into the mechanical aspects of cell behavior and employing suitable stimuli such as physical forces or mechanical cues, we aim to augment the cellular uptake and intracellular trafficking of non- viral vectors.

In summary, my research activities encompass two key areas: the modulation of vector chemistry to develop more effective carriers, particularly lipid-based ones, and the implementation of innovative approaches in our labs to improve interactions between cells and (nano)particles by mechanically influencing cell behavior in response to non-viral vector delivery. These approaches hold significant promise in advancing the development of more efficient gene delivery systems, with potential implications for advanced therapies, including the field of vaccines.


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