Term of Award

Spring 2023

Degree Name

Master of Science in Applied Physical Science (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Committee Chair

James Carter

Committee Member 1

Shainaz Landge

Committee Member 2

Ji Wu


As the effects of global warming continue to spread throughout the world, another critical issue is slowly gaining attention in many urban tropical countries. The Emerging Infectious Diseases/ Pathogens list from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) listed the Zika virus as a potential pandemic threat. In 2015, an outbreak of Zika was noted in several South American countries until the spread reached an all-time high of 87 countries in 2017. During the outbreaks, adults affected were noted to have joint and muscle pains, fevers, and rashes. The worst cases reported would ultimately lead to Guillain-Barre symptoms. Still, pregnant women were most affected as their children were born with microcephaly causing the baby’s brain to not grow properly. Yet many in the US do not fully comprehend the importance of this situation. The threat of Zika virus reaching the US is not as low as many would choose to believe. The main vector-carrier of Zika virus, Aedes aegypti, is well-known to travel long distances and survive in humid, tropical climates. Many can be found in southern states within the US such as Texas, Florida, and Georgia. The threat increases as there currently is no available vaccine or medication available to combat the Zika virus. Due to this, our research proposes the use of novel biodegradable polymeric micelles as a method of drug delivery for antiviral drugs. The antiviral drugs which will be tested are Dragmacidin derivatives. The proposed polymer methyl (polyethylene glycol)-Poly (β-amino ester) (MPEG-PAE) was synthesized through a Michael-type step polymerization resulting in an amphiphilic block copolymer. These nano-sized polymeric delivery systems are composed of a hydrophilic MPEG and a pH-responsive PAE center. The use of amphiphilic block copolymers has attracted attention as a promising biomedical application for drug delivery due to its ability to self-assemble in specific circumstances. Specifically, the MPEG-PAE copolymer undergoes thermal-induced self-assembly at 50⁰C for the formation of micelles. The antiviral compounds listed above will be encapsulated in the newly synthesized pH-responsive micellar nanoparticles and used to suppress Zika virus in cell culture through the inhibition of viral replication.

Research Data and Supplementary Material


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Updated Abstract