Engineering synthetic vectors for improved DNA delivery: Insights from intracellular pathways

Charles M. Roth, Sumati Sundaram

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


Significant progress has been made in the area of nonviral gene delivery to date. Yet, synthetic vectors remain less efficient by orders of magnitude than their viral counterparts. Research continues toward unraveling and overcoming various barriers to the efficient delivery of DNA, whether in plasmid form encoding a gene or as an oligonucleotide for the selective inhibition of target gene expression. Novel components for overcoming these hurdles are continually being incorporated into the design of synthetic vectors, leading to increasingly more virus-like particles. Despite these advances, general principles defining the design of synthetic vectors are yet to be developed fully. A more quantitative analysis of the cellular uptake and intracellular processing of these vectors is required for the rational manipulation of vector design. Mathematical frameworks with a more conceptual basis will help obtain an integrated perspective on these complex systems. In this review, we critically examine the progress made toward the improved design of synthetic vectors by the strategic exploitation of intracellular mechanisms and explore newer possibilities to overcome obstacles in the practical realization of this field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)397-426
Number of pages30
JournalAnnual Review of Biomedical Engineering
StatePublished - 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biomedical Engineering


  • Antisense oligonucleotides
  • Intracellular trafficking
  • Nonviral gene delivery
  • Rational design
  • Targeted delivery


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