Introduction: The field of RNA interference technology has been researched extensively in recent years. However, the development of clinically suitable, safe and effective drug delivery vehicles is still required.
Areas covered: This paper reviews the recent advances of non-viral delivery of small interfering RNA (siRNA) by nanoparticles, including biodegradable nanoparticles, liposomes, polyplex, lipoplex and dendrimers. The characteristics, composition, preparation, applications and advantages of different nanoparticle delivery strategies are also discussed in detail, along with the recent progress of non-viral nanoparticle carrier systems for siRNA delivery in preclinical and clinical studies.
Expert opinion: Non-viral carrier systems, especially nanoparticles, have been investigated extensively for siRNA delivery, and may be utilized in clinical applications in the future. So far, a few preliminary clinical trials of nanoparticles have produced promising results. However, further research is still required to pave the way to successful clinical applications. The most important issues that need to be focused on include encapsulation efficiency, formulation stability of siRNA, degradation in circulation, endosomal escape and delivery efficiency, targeting, toxicity and off-target effects. Pharmacology and pharmacokinetic studies also present another great challenge for nanoparticle delivery systems, owing to the unique nature of siRNA oligonucleotides compared with small molecules.