Characterization of Cationic Bolaamphiphile Vesicles for siRNA Delivery into Tumors and Brain

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22 Scopus citations


Small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) are potential therapeutic substances due to their gene silencing capability as exemplified by the recent approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the first siRNA therapeutic agent (patisiran). However, the delivery of naked siRNAs is challenging because of their short plasma half-lives and poor cell penetrability. In this study, we used vesicles made from bolaamphiphiles (bolas), GLH-19 and GLH-20, to investigate their ability to protect siRNA from degradation by nucleases while delivering it to target cells, including cells in the brain. Based on computational and experimental studies, we found that GLH-19 vesicles have better delivery characteristics than do GLH-20 vesicles in terms of stability, binding affinity, protection against nucleases, and transfection efficiency, while GLH-20 vesicles contribute to efficient release of the delivered siRNAs, which become available for silencing. Our studies with vesicles made from a mixture of the two bolas (GLH-19 and GLH-20) show that they were able to deliver siRNAs into cultured cancer cells, into a flank tumor and into the brain. The vesicles penetrate cell membranes and the blood-brain barrier (BBB) by endocytosis and transcytosis, respectively, mainly through the caveolae-dependent pathway. These results suggest that GLH-19 strengthens vesicle stability, provides protection against nucleases, and enhances transfection efficiency, while GLH-20 makes the siRNA available for gene silencing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-372
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Therapy - Nucleic Acids
StatePublished - 5 Jun 2020


  • Blood Brain Barrier (BBB)
  • Bolaamphiphiles
  • Delivery Systems
  • Gene Silencing
  • Molecular Dynamics
  • RNA Nanotechnology
  • Targeting
  • Transfection
  • Vesicles
  • siRNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Drug Discovery


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