Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




Analytical Chemistry

Committee Chair

Xiaohua Huang

Committee Member

Gary Emmert

Committee Member

Yongmei Wang

Committee Member

Paul Simone


Cancer is a major health problem worldwide and is the second cause of death in the United States. Improved methods to fight cancer are greatly needed. The early detection of cancer is vital to help stop the spread of cancer. Circulating tumor cells are a hallmark of this invasive behavior of cancer. Sensitive and specific detection of CTCs can help in early detection of cancer preventing metastasis. CTC detection is extremely challenging because the number of CTCs in the blood of cancer patients is extremely low. Here, we report a new assay for high sensitivity detection of rare epithelial cancer cells in unprocessed blood based on innovative application of dually functional magnetic-optical hybrid nanoparticles (NPs). We developed novel iron oxide-gold core-shell NPs in oval shapes with combined superparamagnetic properties and SERS activities. The NPs allow on-line magnetic separation and SERS detection of cancer cells in whole blood, with the detection sensitivity down to 1-2 cells/ mL of blood. Our method provides a simple, rapid, quantitative and ultrasensitive technique for CTC detection. Improvement of current cancer therapies is also vital in the fight against cancer. Nanotechnology-based photothermal therapy has emerged as a promising treatment for cancer during the last decade. However, heterogeneous laser heating and limited light penetration can lead to incomplete tumor cell eradication. Here, we developed a couple of methods to overcome these limitations by using combinatorial therapy within a single nanoconstruct. We have combined chemotherapy with photothermal therapy using paclitaxel (PTX)-loaded gold nanorods. We have also combined photodynamic and photothermal therapy with silicon 2,3 napthalocyanine (SiNC) loaded iron oxide cluster-gold nanoparticles. PTX and SiNC were entrapped in the hydrophobic pocket of the polymeric monolayer on the surface of the nanoparticles, which allows direct cellular delivery of the hydrophobic drugs via the lipophilic plasma membrane. The paclitaxel-gold nanorod and SiNC- loaded iron oxide cluster-gold nanopopcorn have the potential of preventing tumor reoccurrence and metastasis and may have important impact on the treatment of head and neck cancer and other malignancies in the clinic.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.