Date on Senior Honors Thesis


Document Type

Senior Honors Thesis

Degree Name




Degree Program

College of Arts and Sciences

Author's Keywords

Cancer; Detection; Nanoparticles; Ovarian; Pyrrole


Longitudinal tracking and accumulation of polymeric nanoparticles in the context of cancer has largely occurred through identification of a fluorescent cargo. In this study, we created a dual extracellular acidic pH targeted polypyrrole-based hollow nanoparticle as a theranostic (maintain both therapeutic and diagnostic capabilities) agent for improved detection and treatment of ovarian cancer. Polypyrrole-hollow nanospheres (PPy-CS) were fabricated through the removal of a silver chloride (AgCl) core, which served as a template, followed by coating with chitosan and further tumor targeted with a pH low insertion peptide, V7. We exploited the NIR-absorbing property of polypyrrole to track both the nanoparticle separately from its NIR-fluorescent cargo. Utilizing the absorbing properties of the PPy-CS which contained an IR-780 cargo, multispectral optoacoustic tracking of phantom-based models revealed that both polypyrrole and IR-780 were separately identified indicating both the presence of the nanomaterial and cargo dye.

Lay Summary

In this study, a nanoparticle was developed to serve as means to enhance the detection of ovarian cancer tumor cells in vitro. A unique feature of this nanoparticle was its ability to actively target the acidic microenvironment found in the extracellular matrix of all tumor cells. The nanoparticle was synthesized by utilizing a polymer-base and then encapsulated with chitosan and the modified targeting peptide. A series of characterization studies and assays were conducted to determine the effectiveness of the nanoparticle. Characterization studies demonstrated the nanoparticle displayed an appropriate size of approximately 50 nm. This size is small enough to not be detected by macrophage in the liver and large enough not to be effluxed out of the vasculature of the tumor microenvironment. Assays demonstrated the nanoparticle’s ability to maintain its cargo and actively target tumor environments with minimal off-targeting. The nanoparticle was placed in an optoacoustic tomographic imaging system to determine its ability to be tracked by the imaging system. The nanoparticle displayed signaling within the imaging system both with the infrared dye and alone.