Alginates are natural polymers with biocompatible, biodegradable and nontoxic characteristics and possess well-defined physical and chemical properties. In particular, sodium alginate is an edible biocompatible coating polymer, water soluble, approved by the US-FDA as food additive and capable of forming a hydrogel polymer matrix which allows a good diffusion of the bioactive compounds. These aspects together with fine chemical modifications by combining alginates with other natural and synthetic polymers have sustained the greater interest of the scientific community to use these natural polymers in a wide range of applications in different fields, pharmaceutical, nutraceutical and gene delivery. The present chapter focuses on alginates applied to natural compounds and gene materials to improve their performance. In fact, they form a film able to avoid natural product from oxidation/degradation phenomena; are excellent carriers to enhance their shelf life, prolong their antioxidant efficiency and also for adding nutritive value and functional properties to nutraceutical compounds. Moreover, in delivery of nucleic acid materials, alginate derivatives have been widely used as polymeric backbones for the formation of systems which can be provided as valuable gene delivery carriers. Many efforts have been made to develop efficient non-viral methods, which include the creation of nanoparticles with encapsulated DNA, polycations and vesicular systems.
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