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DNA-Loaded Zein Nanoparticles and Films for Gene Therapy and DNA Vaccination

Eric Farris and Christopher Davidson

Many polymers have been used for non-viral gene DNA loaded zein
delivery, but all fall short of successfully delivering
DNA and subsequently expressing the protein encoded at an efficient amount for therapeutic use. Zein, a storage protein from corn, has unique biological and physical properties that make it a promising new polymer for gene delivery. We are investigating the use of zein and its interaction with DNA in two forms, nanospheres and films.

Nanospheres are a great delivery tool for non-viral
gene delivery due to their ability to encapsulate and protect the compound inside the particle and release
the DNA in a controlled, sustained, and localized/targeted manner.

Substrate-mediated gene delivery (SMD) describes the delivery of plasmid DNA or DNA complexed with nonviral vectors to cells from a surface, with the DNA immobilized to a biomaterial or substrate through specific or nonspecific interactions. We are investigating the use of zein as a new substrate for SMD, which will allow for adjustable loading and release of DNA due to specific properties of zein.

Zein’s ability to encapsulate DNA and coat surfaces demonstrates zein’s versatility to be a potential tool in non-viral gene delivery.