Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Chemical and Materials Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. J. Zach Hilt

Second Advisor

Dr. Kimberly W. Anderson


Lung cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths in the United States. Radiation and chemotherapy are conventional treatments, but they result in serious side effects and the probability of tumor recurrence remains high. Therefore, there is an increasing need to enhance the efficacy of conventional treatments. Magnetic nanoparticles have been previously studied for a variety of applications such as magnetic resonance imaging contrast agents, anemia treatment, magnetic cell sorting and magnetically mediated hyperthermia (MMH). In this work, dextran coated iron oxide nanoparticles were developed and functionalized with peptides to target the nanoparticles to either the extracellular matrix (ECM) of tumor tissue or to localize the nanoparticles in subcellular regions after cell uptake.

The magnetic nanoparticles were utilized for a variety of applications. First, heating properties of the nanoparticles were utilized to administer hyperthermia treatments combined with chemotherapy. The nanoparticles were functionalized with peptides to target fibrinogen in the ECM and extensively characterized for their physicochemical properties, and MMH combined with chemotherapy was able to enhance the toxicity of chemotherapy.

The second application of the nanoparticles was magnetically mediated energy delivery. This treatment does not result in a bulk temperature rise upon actuation of the nanoparticles by an alternating magnetic field (AMF) but rather results in intracellular damage via friction from Brownian rotation or nanoscale heating effects from Neél relaxations. The nanoparticles were functionalized with a cell penetrating peptide to facilitate cell uptake and lysosomal escape. The intracellular effects of the internalized nanoparticles alone and with activation by an AMF were evaluated.

Iron concentrations in vivo are highly regulated as excess iron can catalyze the formation of the hydroxyl radical through Fenton chemistry. Although often a concern of using iron oxide nanoparticles for therapeutic applications, these inherent toxicities were harnessed and utilized to enhance radiation therapy. Therefore, the third application of magnetic nanoparticles was their ability to catalyze reactive oxygen species formation and increase efficacy of radiation. Overall, iron oxide nanoparticles have a variety of cancer therapy applications and are a promising class of materials for increasing efficacy and reducing the side effects of conventional cancer treatments.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)