Aligned Nanofibrillar Scaffolds for Controlled Delivery of Modified mRNA

Tatiana S. Zaitseva, Cynthia Alcazar, Maedeh Zamani, Luqia Hou, Steve Sawamura, Eduard Yakubov, Michael Hopkins, Y. Joseph Woo, Michael V. Paukshto, Ngan F. Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


RNA-based vector delivery is a promising gene therapy approach. Recent advances in chemical modification of mRNA structure to form modified mRNA (mmRNA or cmRNA or modRNA) have substantially improved their stability and translational efficiency within cells. However, mmRNA conventionally delivered in solution can be taken up nonspecifically or become cleared away prematurely, which markedly limits the potential benefit of mmRNA therapy. To address this limitation, we developed mmRNA-incorporated nanofibrillar scaffolds that could target spatially localized delivery and temporally controlled release of the mmRNA both in vitro and in vivo. To establish the efficacy of mmRNA therapy, mmRNA encoding reporter proteins such as green fluorescence protein or firefly luciferase (Fluc) was loaded into aligned nanofibrillar collagen scaffolds. The mmRNA was released from mmRNA-loaded scaffolds in a transient and temporally controlled manner and induced transfection of human fibroblasts in a dose-dependent manner. In vitro transfection was further verified using mmRNA encoding the angiogenic growth factor, hepatocyte growth factor (HGF). Finally, scaffold-based delivery of HGF mmRNA to the site of surgically induced muscle injury in mice resulted in significantly higher vascular regeneration after 14 days, compared to implantation of Fluc mmRNA-releasing scaffolds. After transfection with Fluc mmRNA-releasing scaffold in vivo, Fluc activity was detectable and localized to the muscle region, based on noninvasive bioluminescence imaging. Scaffold-based local mmRNA delivery as an off-the-shelf form of gene therapy has broad translatability for treating a wide range of diseases or injuries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-130
Number of pages10
JournalTissue Engineering - Part A.
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • biomaterials
  • extracellular matrix
  • gene delivery
  • modified mRNA
  • nanofibrillar scaffold


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