Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Lisa A Holland

Committee Co-Chair

Jonathan Boyd

Committee Member

Harry O Finklea

Committee Member

Justin Legleiter

Committee Member

Letha J. Sooter.


Magnetic nanoparticles are widely being used in various fields of medicine, biology and separations. This dissertation focuses on the synthesis and use of magnetic nanoparticles for targeted drug delivery and analytical separations. The goals of this research include synthesis of biocompatible surface modified monodisperse superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) by novel techniques for targeted drug delivery and use of SPIONs as analytical sensing tools. Surface modification of SPIONs was performed with two different co-polymers: tri block co-polymer Pluronics and octylamine modified polyacrylic acid.;Samples of SPIONs were subsequently modified with 4 different commercially available, FDA approved tri-block copolymers (Pluronics), covering a wide range of molecular weights (5.75-14.6 kDa). A novel, technically simpler and faster phase transfer approach was developed to surface modify the SPIONs with Pluronics for drug delivery and other biomedical applications. The hydrodynamic diameter and aggregation properties of the Pluronic modified SPIONs were studied by dynamic light scattering (DLS). The coverage of SPIONs with Pluronics was supported with IR Spectroscopy and characterized by Thermo gravimetric Analysis (TGA). The drug entrapment capacity of SPIONs was studied by UV-VIS spectroscopy using a hydrophobic carbocyanine dye, which serves as a model for hydrophobic drugs. These studies resulted in a comparison of physical properties and their implications for drug loading capacities of the four types of Pluronic coated SPIONs for drug delivery assessment. These drug delivery systems could be used for passive drug targeting. However, Pluronics lack the functional group necessary for bioconjugation and hence cannot achieve active targeting.;SPIONs were functionalized with octylamine modified polyacrylic acid-based copolymer, providing water solubility and facile biomolecular conjugation. Epirubicin was loaded onto SPIONs and the drug entrapment was studied by UVVIS spectrophotometry. In this study, the antisense oligonucleotide sequence to the anti-apoptopic protein survivin was coupled to SPIONs to provide molecular targeting and potential therapy for cancer cells. Successful coupling of antisense survivin to SPIONs was demonstrated by circular dichroism studies of the conjugate and its complementary sequence. Such multifunctional SPIONs can be used as active targeting agents for cancer cells, producing enhanced magnetic resonance imaging contrast and releasing chemotherapeutic agents to targeted cells.;SPIONs also serve as an excellent platform for analytical sensing. Streptavidin modified SPIONs were used as substrates to immobilize biotinylated aptamers (single-stranded DNA). The binding affinity of such aptamers to its target was achieved by quantifying the amount of target released from the aptamer. This quantification was achieved using pH-mediated stacking capillary electrophoresis. SPIONs were shown to be more efficient compared to magnetic microbeads as the sensing elements. The binding affinity constant of the aptamer determined was almost 8-fold better than that obtained using magnetic microbeads.