Biomedical application of chitosan-based nanoscale delivery systems: Potential usefulness in siRNA delivery for cancer therapy

Milad Ashrafizadeh, Masoud Delfi, Farid Hashemi, Amirhossein Zabolian, Hossein Saleki, Morteza Bagherian, Negar Azami, Mahdi Vasheghani Farahani, Seyed Omid Sharifzadeh, Soodeh Hamzehlou, Kiavash Hushmandi, Pooyan Makvandi, Ali Zarrabi, Michael R. Hamblin, Rajender S. Varma

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

102 Citations (Scopus)


Gene therapy is an emerging and promising strategy in cancer therapy where small interfering RNA (siRNA) system has been deployed for down-regulation of targeted gene and subsequent inhibition in cancer progression; some issues with siRNA, however, linger namely, its off-targeting property and degradation by enzymes. Nanoparticles can be applied for the encapsulation of siRNA thus enhancing its efficacy in gene silencing where chitosan (CS), a linear alkaline polysaccharide derived from chitin, with superb properties such as biodegradability, biocompatibility, stability and solubility, can play a vital role. Herein, the potential of CS nanoparticles has been discussed for the delivery of siRNA in cancer therapy; proliferation, metastasis and chemoresistance are suppressed by siRNA-loaded CS nanoparticles, especially the usage of pH-sensitive CS nanoparticles. CS nanoparticles can provide a platform for the co-delivery of siRNA and anti-tumor agents with their enhanced stability via chemical modifications. As pre-clinical experiments are in agreement with potential of CS-based nanoparticles for siRNA delivery, and these carriers possess biocompatibiliy and are safe, further studies can focus on evaluating their utilization in cancer patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117809
JournalCarbohydrate Polymers
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2021


  • Cancer therapy
  • Chitosan
  • Gene delivery
  • Nanoparticle
  • Small interfering RNA (siRNA)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


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