Term of Award

Fall 2014

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Department

Department of Biology

Committee Chair

Karin Scarpinato

Committee Member 1

Johanne Lewis

Committee Member 2

James Lobue

Abstract

Cancer is one of the main killers of mankind. There are more than one million people in the U.S. alone are diagnosed with cancer each year. There have been millions of dollars invested into finding a cure. Equally important is the pursuit of new ways to treat cancer. Current treatment methods lack specificity and cause a great deal of collateral damage to patients. The goal of this study is not to find a cure, but rather to find a means of treatment that is at least equally as effective to current treatment methods and less damaging to the patient’s unaffected cells. At present, one option is the use of nanomaterials, which is a developing area of research. These nanomaterials have various usages from drug delivery to cancer diagnostics and therapy. Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have shown to have a reduced toxicity, in comparison to other nanomaterials and, like its counterparts, possess the ability to absorb and redistribute heat very well resulting in localized heating while minimizing detrimental effects on surrounding tissues. The use of antibodies or other chemical compounds is imperative for their increased affinity for particular cells lines in order to localize this heating to cancer cells. This project used the conjugation of carbon nanotubes to anti-CD44 to target cancer cells and induce thermal ablation via novel microwave radiation. By coupling the power of microwaves with the ability of the CNTs to efficiently absorb heat, antibody-functionalized CNTs (Ab-CNTs) should be able to localize, amplify, and redistribute that heat to cancer cells that they are associated with through antibody binding to surface receptors. Optimal concentrations of CNTs and microwave power were found at 0.025-0.01 mg/ml and 900 W, respectively. These parameters showed significant cell death occurring in vitro when Ab-CNTs were used, compared to controls. These findings are supported in vivo using zebrafish embryos and via confocal imaging. Future directions for this project should include finding more suitable antibodies for various forms of cancer, as well as, moving trials into higher-level animal models.

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