Cationic Polymers for Gene Delivery into Mesenchymal Stem Cells as a Novel Approach to Regenerative Medicine
Many studies have demonstrated the importance of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in regenerative medicine and tissue engineering. Indeed, MSCs may be widely used to repair or regenerate mesenchymal tissues, such as bone, cartilage, muscle or tendon. Scientific evidence supports the fact that MSCs can act during tissue repair, not only by simple engraftment and differentiation but also by releasing mediators which can function as paracrine factors, or modulating signaling involving cell–cell contact. Recently, gene delivery approaches have been used to potentiate the ability of MSCs in repairing tissues. Cationic polymers are versatile systems that constitute biomaterials which aid in regenerative medicine and tissue engineering based on MSCs by delivering therapeutic genes to these stem cells and helping them in the adhesion and proliferation processes. In this chapter we revise the current knowledge about cationic polymer-mediated gene transfer into MSCs and pre-clinical applications for angiogenesis, chondrogenesis and osteogenesis. Owing to the development of biodegradable and biocompatible cationic polymers with reduced toxicity, it is envisioned that the combination of cationic polymers and MSCs will open novel avenues in the regeneration of tissues and even complex organs.