Date of Award

Spring 5-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program




Major Professor

Matthew A. Tarr

Second Advisor

John B. Wiley

Third Advisor

Weilie Zhou

Fourth Advisor

Viktor Poltavets


Luminescent semiconductor quantum dots (QDs) are extensively researched for use in biological applications. They have unique optical and physical properties that make them excellent candidates to replace conventional organic dyes for cellular labeling, multiplexing, nucleic acid detection, and as generalized probes. The primary focus of this dissertation was to utilize quantum dots for improvement in immunoassays. Specifically, atherosclerosis biomarkers were detected simultaneously in an effort to demonstrate advances in early detection diagnostics.

Quantum dot-antibody bioconjugates were prepared by encapsulation into mesoporous silica and functionalized with thiol and amine groups to enable bioconjugation. Functionalization of the mesoporous silica quantum dot composites facilitated biocompatibility for use with biological buffers in immunoassays. These bioconjugates were used in a sandwich immunoassay to detect atherosclerosis biomarkers IL-15 and MCP-1. Sandwich assays employ capture antibodies immobilized onto a well plate to bind as much of the antigen as possible. The capture antibodies increased binding by at least 4 times the amount of antigen bound to the surface of a direct detection assay. The sandwich immunoassay was able to detect 1 pg/mL of IL-15 and 50 pg/mL of MCP-1 biomarkers.

Human serum albumin nanoparticles (HSAPs) were synthesized via a desolvation and crosslinking method. Human serum albumin is a versatile protein being used in a variety of applications. Quantum dots were loaded into HSAPs as potential detection probes for immunoassays. Efficient loading was not achieved, and the assay was unable to improve current detection limits.

Controlled release studies were explored using HSAPs loaded with superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles and a fluorescent drug analog. Exposure to a magnetic field resulted in degradation of the HSAPs. The fluorophore was released and measured to examine how cancer drugs might be controlled through a magnetic field. Gold nanorods and an anticancer drug, Sorafenib, were also encapsulated into HSAPs for treatment of renal cell carcinoma in vivo. Laser irradiation treatment combined with Sorafenib resulted in 100% tumor necrosis and total elimination of any viable tumor present. HSAPs have demonstrated remarkable potential as drug delivery nanocarriers.


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