Short interfering RNA (siRNA) functions directly in the cytoplasm, where it is assembled into an RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC). The localized delivery of siRNA to a specific site in vivo is highly challenging. There are many disease states in which a systemic effect of RNAi may be desirable; some examples include non-localized cancers, HIV, neurodegenerative diseases, respiratory viruses, and heart and vascular disease. In this Concept, we will focus on the localized delivery of siRNA to a target site using various delivery modalities. In certain tissues, such as the eye, central nervous system and lung, it has been demonstrated that a simple injection of naked siRNA will silence gene expression specifically in that tissue. To achieve local gene silencing in other tissues, a variety of approaches have been pursued to help stabilize the siRNA and facilitate uptake; they include chemical modification of the siRNA or complexation within liposomes or polymers to form nanoparticles. Recently, the use of macroscopic biomaterial scaffolds for siRNA delivery has been reported, and although there is still significant work to be done in this area to optimize the delivery systems, it is an important area of research that offers the potential for having great impact on the field of siRNA delivery.
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