Graphene materials as 2D non-viral gene transfer vector platforms

Advances in genomics and gene therapy could offer solutions to many diseases that remain incurable today, however one of the critical reasons halting clinical progress is due to the difficulty in designing efficient and safe delivery vectors for the appropriate genetic cargo. Safety and large-scale production concerns counter-balance the high gene transfer efficiency achieved with viral vectors, while non-viral strategies have yet to become sufficiently efficient. The extraordinary physicochemical, optical and photothermal properties of graphene-based materials (GBMs) could offer two-dimensional (2D) components for the design of nucleic acid carrier systems. We discuss here such properties and their implications for the optimization of gene delivery. While the design of such vectors is still in its infancy, we provide here an exhaustive and up-to-date analysis of the studies that have explored GBMs as gene transfer vectors, focusing on the functionalization strategies followed to improve vector performance and on the biological effects attained.