Non-viral gene delivery agents are notorious for their poor nucleic acid transfection efficiency and relatively high cell cytotoxicity. Thus, many investigators are exploring the important parameters involved in charged polymer-mediated gene delivery, such as chemical composition, molecular weight, structural architecture, surface charge, etc. It is important to develop clear structure-property relationships in order to design successful nucleic acid delivery agents for gene therapy. To elucidate these relationships, well-defined materials are necessary. Controlled radical polymerization methods offer a facile route to systematically produce well-defined, structurally distinct gene delivery agents. The use of charged polymers prepared via controlled radical polymerizations to elucidate transfection mechanisms or develop new delivery vectors will be reviewed herein.
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