In the context of producing enhanced therapeutics for regenerative medicine, our laboratory develops gene-activated matrices (GAMs) using non-viral gene therapy (GT) in combination with collagen-based scaffolds engineered specifically for tissue repair. Non-viral vectors have been referred to as a minority pursuit in GT but considering the concerns associated with viral vectors and as transient gene expression is such a key consideration, further research is clearly warranted for tissue engineering (TE) applications. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are well regarded for their capability in bone regeneration but as primary cells, they are difficult to transfect. We have recently optimised the non-viral vector, polyethyleneimine (PEI), to achieve high transfection efficiencies in MSCs. Subsequently, a series of PEI-based GAMs were developed using collagen, collagen-glycosaminoglycan and collagen-nanohydroxyapatite (collagen-nHa) scaffolds whereby transgene expression was detected up to 21 d with the collagen-nHa scaffold providing the most prolonged expression. Moreover, all PEI-based GAMs contained a low plasmid DNA dose of 2 µg which is far below doses often required in previous GAMs. Having successfully developed these GAMs, the ephrinB2 gene has recently been incorporated to produce a novel therapeutic GAM for bone repair. Herein, we discuss our recent investigations in the development and application of non-viral GAMs.
Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland ->