Carbon nanotubes as vectors for gene therapy: Past achievements, present challenges and future goals

Promising therapeutic and prophylactic effects have been achieved following advances in the gene therapy research arena, giving birth to the new generation of disease-modifying therapeutics. The greatest challenge that gene therapy vectors still face is the ability to deliver sufficient genetic payloads in order to enable efficient gene transfer into target cells. A wide variety of viral and non-viral gene therapy vectors have been developed and explored over the past 10 years, including carbon nanotubes. In this review we will address the application of carbon nanotubes as non-viral vectors in gene therapy with the aim to give a perspective on the past achievements, present challenges and future goals. A series of important topics concerning carbon nanotubes as gene therapy vectors will be addressed, including the benefits that carbon nanotubes offer over other non-viral delivery systems. Furthermore, a perspective is given on what the ideal genetic cargo to deliver using carbon nanotubes is and finally the geno-pharmacological impact of carbon nanotube-mediated gene therapy is discussed.