Date of Award

Spring 2019

Thesis Date


Degree Type

Honors Thesis-Unrestricted

Degree Name




Degree Program



Matthew A. Tarr


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is an aggressive and destructive cancer of the liver. Currently available treatment plans are locoregional therapies aimed to decrease tumor burden, resection that surgically removes the tumor, or systemic therapies for advanced stage to extend survival. However, decompensation post-locoregional treatment and recurrence rates for HCC remain high despite the different treatment modalities. There is a great need for alternative and more effective treatment methods that will further dampen tumor burden while decreasing the risk of intra- and extrahepatic spread. The goal of this project was to develop a non-invasive therapeutic treatment to target HCC cells using human serum albumin particles (HSAPs).

In this study, nanoparticles were prepared using human serum albumin (HSA) and synthesized to house gold nanorods (AuNRs). The AuNR-HSAPs were incubated with hepatic cell lines under different stresses of chemotherapy drug, doxorubicin, with near-infrared laser irradiation. Metabolic activity and viability were determined via MTT assay and flow cytometry.

Particle uptake in HCC lines was confirmed. AuNRs were sufficient to cause metabolic stress and reduce viability by 10-25% in a cell line dependent manner. The combination of AuNRs and laser irradiation did not significantly impact viability that differed from AuNRs alone in any of the cell lines tested, doxorubicin doses chosen were aimed to decrease viability by 10%. The combination of AuNRs, laser irradiation, and doxorubicin provided the largest decrease in viability. However, it was not statistically significant from the control.


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