Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Chemical Engineering

Major Professor

Norma Alcantar, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Nathan Gallant, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Mark Jaroszeski, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ryan Toomey, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Marzenna Wiranowska, Ph.D.


Chlorotoxin, Chitosan Hydrogel, Niosome, ATR-FTIR, Glioma


Localized drug delivery systems have been widely studied as potential replacements for conventional chemotherapy with the capability of providing sustained and controlled drug release in specific targeted sites. They offer numerous benefits over conventional chemotherapy such as enhancing the stability of embedded drugs and preserving their anticancer activity, providing sustained and controlled drug release in the tumor site, reducing toxicity and diminishing subsequent side effects, minimizing the drug loss, averting the need for frequent administrations, and minimizing the cost of therapy.

The aim of this study is to develop a localized drug delivery system with niosomes embedded in a chitosan hydrogel with targeting capabilities. The incorporation of niosomes into a chitosan hydrogel has several advantages over each individually being used. First, embedding niosomes in a chitosan hydrogel can yield control over drug release especially for small molecule drugs. Second, chitosan hydrogel may improve the release time and dosage of drugs from niosomes by protecting them with an extra barrier, resulting in tunable release rates. Third, as a localized delivery system, chitosan hydrogels can prevent the migration of niosomes away from the targeted tumor sites. Finally, chitosan has mucoadhesive property which can be used in the targeting of the tumor cells with the mucin over expression.

To enhance the specific targeting, the capacity of chitosan to target MUC1 overexpression in cancer cells will be analyzed. Similarly, the incorporation of chlorotoxin in this system will be achieved and evaluated. Chlorotoxin, a 36-amino acid peptide, is purified from Leiurus quinquestriatus scorpion venom with a distinct characteristic of binding preferentially to neuroectoderma tumors such as glioma, but not to normal tissue.

The overexpression of MUC1, a mucin antigen, in certain cancer cells has been used as an attractive therapeutic target in the design of a drug delivery system consisting of chitosan with a distinct mucoadhesive property. To determine the level of MUC1expression in different cell lines, Cell based Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay (Cell ELISA) was developed for the first time.

Attenuated Total Reflectance- Fourier Transform Infra-Red (ATR-FTIR) Spectroscopy is used to investigate the possible molecular interaction between chlorotoxin and glioma cells. This study presents a new approach in monitoring the biochemical and biophysical changes in glioma cells after being exposed to CTX. In addition to characterizing the signature spectra of CTX and glioma cells, we evaluated the differences in biochemical compositions of the spectra of the glioma cells treated with and without CTX over different incubation time periods.

The results indicate that the proposed localized drug delivery system with the distinct tumor targeting features and extended release profiles would tune and control the specific delivery of chemotherapeutics in tumor sites.