While small interfering RNA (siRNA) and microRNA (miRNA) have attracted extensive attention and showed significant promise for the study, diagnosis and treatment of human cancers, delivering siRNA or miRNA specifically and efficiently into tumor cells in vivo remains a great challenge. Delivery barriers, which arise mainly from the routes of administration associated with complex physiochemical microenvironments of the human body and the unique properties of RNAs, hinder the development of RNA-interference (RNAi)-based therapeutics in clinical practice. However, in available delivery systems, non-viral nanoparticle-based gene/RNA-delivery vectors, or nanovectors, are showing powerful delivery capacities and huge potential for improvements in functional nanomaterials, including novel fabrication approaches which would greatly enhance delivery performance. In this review, we summarize the currently recognized RNAi delivery barriers and the anti-barrier requirements related to vectors' properties. Recent efforts and achievements in the development of novel nanomaterials, nanovectors fabrication methods, and delivery approaches are discussed. We also review the outstanding needs in the areas of material synthesis and assembly, multifunction combinations, proper delivery and assisting approaches that require more intensive investigation for the comprehensive and effective delivery of RNAi by non-viral nanovectors.
Keywords: Nanoparticles; RNAi; cancer therapy; miRNA; siRNA; tumor-targeting.