Transgene delivery to human induced pluripotent stem cells using nanoparticles

Megan A. Yamoah, Phung N. Thai, Xiao Dong Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) and hiPSCs-derived cells have the potential to revolutionize regenerative and precision medicine. Genetically reprograming somatic cells to generate hiPSCs and genetic modification of hiPSCs are considered the key procedures for the study and application of hiPSCs. However, there are significant technical challenges for transgene delivery into somatic cells and hiPSCs since these cells are known to be difficult to transfect. The existing methods, such as viral transduction and chemical transfection, may introduce significant alternations to hiPSC culture which affect the potency, purity, consistency, safety, and functional capacity of hiPSCs. Therefore, generation and genetic modification of hiPSCs through non-viral approaches are necessary and desirable. Nanotechnology has revolutionized fields from astrophysics to biology over the past two decades. Increasingly, nanoparticles have been used in biomedicine as powerful tools for transgene and drug delivery, imaging, diagnostics, and therapeutics. The most successful example is the recent development of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines at warp speed to combat the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which brought nanoparticles to the center stage of biomedicine and demonstrated the efficient nanoparticle-mediated transgene delivery into human body. Nanoparticles have the potential to facilitate the transgene delivery into the hiPSCs and offer a simple and robust approach. Nanoparticle-mediated transgene delivery has significant advantages over other methods, such as high efficiency, low cytotoxicity, biodegradability, low cost, directional and distal controllability, efficient in vivo applications, and lack of immune responses. Our recent study using magnetic nanoparticles for transfection of hiPSCs provided an example of the successful applications, supporting the potential roles of nanoparticles in hiPSC biology. This review discusses the principle, applications, and significance of nanoparticles in the transgene delivery to hiPSCs and their successful application in the development of COVID-19 vaccines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number334
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Human induced pluripotent stem cells
  • Human induced pluripotent stem cells-derived cardiomyocytes
  • Magnetic nanoparticles
  • Nanomedicine
  • Nanoparticles
  • SARSCoV-2
  • Transfection
  • Transgene
  • Vaccine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery


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