Tuning Physical Properties of Nanocomplexes through Microfluidics-Assisted Confinement

The future of genetic medicine hinges on successful intracellular delivery of nucleic acid-based therapeutics. While significant effort has concentrated on developing nanocarriers to improve the delivery aspects, scant attention has been paid to the synthetic process of poorly controlled nanocomplex formation. Proposed here is a reliable system to better control the complexation process, and thus the physical properties of the nanocomplexes, through microfluidics-assisted confinement (MAC) in picoliter droplets. We show that these homogeneous MAC-synthesized nanocomplexes exhibit narrower size distribution, lower cytotoxicity, and higher transfection efficiency compared to their bulk-synthesized counterparts. MAC represents a physical approach to control the energetic self-assembly of polyelectrolytes, thereby complementing the chemical innovations in nanocarrier design to optimize nucleic acid and peptide delivery.