Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

M. Eng.



Committee Chair

O'Toole, Martin G.

Author's Keywords

Gold nanoparticles; Cancer treatment; Drug delivery


Nanoparticles; Gold; Cancer--Treatment; Drug delivery devices


The treatment of cancer with chemotherapeutic agents has made great strides in the last few decades but still introduces major systemic side effects. The potent drugs needed to kill cancer cells often cause irreparable damage to otherwise healthy organs leading to further morbidity and mortality. A therapy with intrinsic selective properties and/or an inducible activation has the potential to change the way cancer can be treated. Gold nanoparticles (GNPs) are biocompatible and chemically versatile tools that can be readily functionalized to serve as molecular vehicles. The ability of these particles to strongly absorb light with wavelengths in the therapeutic window combined with the heating effect of surface plasmon resonance makes them uniquely suited for noninvasive heating in biologic applications. Specially designed DNA aptamers have shown their ability to serve as drug carriers through intercalation as well as directly acting as therapeutic agents. By combining these separate molecules a multifaceted drug delivery vehicle can be created with great potential as a selective and controllable treatment for cancer. Oligonucleotide-coated GNPs have been created using spherical GNPs but little work has been reported using gold nanoplates in this way. Using the Diasynth method gold nanoplates were produced to absorb strongly in the therapeutic near infrared (nIR) window. These particles were functionalized with two DNA oligonucleotides: one serving as an intercalation site for doxorubicin, and another, AS1411, serving directly as an anticancer targeting/therapeutic agent. These functional particles were fully synthesized and processed along with confirmation of DNA functionalization and doxorubicin intercalation. Doxorubicin is released via denaturation of the DNA structure into which doxorubicin is intercalated upon the heating of the gold nanoplate well above the DNA melting temperature. This temperature increase, due to light stimulation of surface plasmon resonance, was measured during laser application. Successful release of doxorubicin via laser application was measured with fluorescence measurements providing proof that the doxorubicin was successfully intercalated and released.