Scalable production of self-assembled DNA nanoparticles

Despite successful demonstration of linear polyethyleneimine (lPEI) as an effective carrier for a wide range of gene medicine, including DNA plasmids, small interfering RNAs, mRNAs, etc., and continuous improvement of the physical properties and biological performance of the polyelectrolyte complex nanoparticles prepared from lPEI and nucleic acids, there still exist major challenges to produce these nanocomplexes in a scalable manner, particularly for lPEI/DNA nanoparticles. This has significantly hindered the progress towards clinical translation of these nanoparticle-based gene medicine. We have developed a flash nanocomplexation (FNC) method that achieves continuous production of lPEI/plasmid DNA nanoparticles with narrow size distribution using a confined impinging jet device.  The method involves the complex coacervation of negatively charged DNA plasmid and positive charged lPEI under rapid, highly dynamic, and homogeneous mixing conditions, producing polyelectrolyte complex nanoparticles with narrow distribution of particle size and shape. The average number of plasmid DNA packaged per nanoparticles and its distribution are similar between the FNC method and the small-scale batch mixing method.  In addition, the nanoparticles prepared by these two methods exhibit similar cell transfection efficiency.  These results confirm that FNC is an effective and scalable method that can produce well-controlled lPEI/plasmid DNA nanoparticles.


  1. Santos JL, Ren Y, Vandermark J, Archang MM, Williford JM, Liu H, Lee J, Wang TH, Mao HQ. Continuous production of discrete plasmid DNA-polycation nanoparticles using flash nanocomplexation. Small. In press (2016). doi: 10.1002/smll.201601425 (Cover Article). PMID: 27717227.