Electrically Mediated Delivery of Plasmid DNA to the Skin, Using a Multielectrode Array

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In this brief report, the authors describe a novel electroporation technique that could potentially overcome many of the current limitations associated with this procedure for delivery of plasmid DNA to the skin. Heller et al. test their newly developed multielectrode array applicator in rat and guinea pig models.

The easy accessibility of skin makes it an excellent target for gene transfer protocols. To take full advantage of skin as a target for gene transfer, it is important to establish an efficient and reproducible delivery system. Electroporation is a strong candidate to meet this delivery criterion. Electroporation of the skin is a simple, direct, in vivo method to deliver genes for therapy. Previously, delivery to the skin was performed by means of applicators with relatively large distances between electrodes, resulting in significant muscle stimulation and pain. These applicators also had limitations in controlling the directionality of the applied field. To resolve this issue, a system consisting of an array of electrodes that decreased the distance between them and that were independently addressable for directional control of the field was developed. This new multielectrode array (MEA) was compared with an established electrode. In a rat model, comparable reporter expression was seen after delivery with each electrode. Delivery was also evaluated in a guinea pig model to determine the potential of this approach in an animal model with skin thickness and structure similar to human skin. The results clearly showed that effective delivery was related to both the electrode and the parameters chosen. With the MEA, the muscle twitching associated with application of electric fields was notably reduced compared with conventional electrode systems. This is important, as it will facilitate the translation of electroporation-mediated gene delivery to skin for clinical use with DNA vaccines or for therapies for cancer or protein deficiencies.

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Human Gene Therapy, v. 21, issue 3, p. 357-362