Arginine-Based Biodegradable Ether–Ester Polymers with Low Cytotoxicity as Potential Gene Carriers
The success of gene therapy depends on safe and effective gene carriers. Despite being widely used, synthetic vectors based on poly(ethylenimine) (PEI), poly(l-lysine) (PLL), or poly(l-arginine) (poly-Arg) are not yet fully satisfactory. Thus, both improvement of established carriers and creation of new synthetic vectors are necessary. A series of biodegradable arginine-based ether–ester polycations was developed, which consists of three main classes: amides, urethanes, and ureas. Compared to that of PEI, PLL, and poly-Arg, much lower cytotoxicity was achieved for the new cationic arginine-based ether–ester polymers. Even at polycation concentrations up to 2 mg/mL, no significant negative effect on cell viability was observed upon exposure of several cell lines (murine mammary carcinoma, human cervical adenocarcinoma, murine melanoma, and mouse fibroblast) to the new polymers. Interaction with plasmid DNA yielded compact and stable complexes. The results demonstrate the potential of arginine-based ether–ester polycations as nonviral carriers for gene therapy applications.