Theranostics 2022; 12(9):4081-4109. doi:10.7150/thno.70853 This issue


Advances in the polymeric delivery of nucleic acid vaccines

Gang Chen1,✉, Bowen Zhao2, Elena F. Ruiz2, Fuwu Zhang2,3,✉

1. School of Rehabilitation Science and Engineering, University of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Qingdao 266024, PR China
2. Department of Chemistry, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL 33146, United States
3. The Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Biomedical Nanotechnology Institute, University of Miami, Miami, FL 33136, United States

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Chen G, Zhao B, Ruiz EF, Zhang F. Advances in the polymeric delivery of nucleic acid vaccines. Theranostics 2022; 12(9):4081-4109. doi:10.7150/thno.70853. Available from

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Graphic abstract

Nucleic acid vaccines, especially messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines, display unique benefits in the current COVID-19 pandemic. The application of polymeric materials as delivery carriers has greatly promoted nucleic acid vaccine as a promising prophylactic and therapeutic strategy. The inherent properties of polymeric materials render nucleic acid vaccines with excellent in vivo stability, enhanced biosafety, specific cellular uptake, endolysosomal escape, and promoted antigen expression. Although polymeric delivery of nucleic acid vaccines has progressed significantly in the past decades, clinical translation of polymer-gene vaccine systems still faces insurmountable challenges. This review summarizes the diverse polymers and their characterizations and representative formulations for nucleic acid vaccine delivery. We also discussed existing problems, coping strategies, and prospect relevant to applications of nucleic acid vaccines and polymeric carriers. This review highlights the rational design and development of polymeric vaccine delivery systems towards meeting the goals of defending serious or emerging diseases.

Keywords: nucleic acid vaccine, polymer, gene delivery, humoral immunity, cellular immunity