Recently, therapeutics based on mRNA (mRNA) have attracted significant interest for vaccines, cancer immunotherapy, and gene editing. However, the lack of biocompatible vehicles capable of delivering mRNA to the target tissue and efficiently expressing the encoded proteins impedes the development of mRNA-based therapies for a variety of diseases. Herein, we report mRNA-loaded polymeric nanoparticles based on diethylenetriamine-substituted poly(aspartic acid) that induce protein expression in the lungs and muscles following intravenous and intramuscular injections, respectively. Animal studies revealed that the amount of polyethylene glycol (PEG) on the nanoparticle surface affects the translation of the delivered mRNA into the encoded protein in the target tissue. After systemic administration, only mRNA-loaded nanoparticles modified with PEG at a molar ratio of 1:1 (PEG/polymer) induce protein expression in the lungs. In contrast, protein expression was detected only following intramuscular injection of mRNA-loaded nanoparticles with a PEG/polymer ratio of 10:1. These findings suggest that the PEG density on the surface of poly(aspartic acid)-based nanoparticles should be optimized for different delivery routes depending on the purpose of the mRNA treatment.

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