Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor



A tumor targeted dendrimer based drug delivery system was designed and synthesized to carry chemotherapy drug doxorubicin. Polyamidoamine (PAMAM) dendrimer G4.5 was chosen as the underlying carrier. Anionic G4.5 is a good option for drug delivery as it consists of 128 surface groups, is less cytotoxic and favorably biodistributed. The delivery system was synthesized using a layer-by layer arrangement of three functional entities: chemotherapy drug doxorubicin, monoclonal antibody Cetuximab against EGF receptor, and polyethylene glycol (PEG). Doxorubicin was attached via an acid-sensitive hydrazon linkage to the dendrimer. Macromolecules are taken in by cells through endocytosis. pH inside the early endosomes to lysosomes ranges from pH 6 to 4.5. These acidic conditions are favorable for release of drug bound to the dendrimer vehicle through acid-sensitive linkage. 35% of all solid tumors of brain express exceptionally high EGF receptors whereas normal brain tumors express less EGFR. This makes the EGFR a potent targeting moiety for targeted drug delivery. Cetuximab will serve as a targeting ligand to help the delivery system target tumor cells. PEG was incorporated as a linker between Cetuximab and dendrimer to avoid reticuloendothelial system (RES) uptake of the system, increase biocompatibility, increase drug half-life and other shortcomings associated with nanomaterials. Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR), fluorescence anisotropy, and western blotting were used to confirm the conjugation of PEG, doxorubicin and cetuximab to the dendrimer. The synthesized delivery system was characterized using ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy (UV-Vis) to approximate the number of doxorubicin attached. Dynamic light scattering (DLS) and zeta potential were used to analyze the change in size and surface properties of dendrimer during the synthesis. Doxorubicin release studies were conducted at different pHs. Maximum doxorubicin was released at pH 4.5 indicating the successful acid-sensitive linkage between the drug and dendrimer. Cytotoxicity studies indicated that the addition of PEG increased the biocompatibility as compared to free doxorubicin whereas; combination of doxorubicin and cetuximab exerted a significant toxic effect over a period of 72 hours. The cellular uptake of the delivery system was higher than that of free doxorubicin. Free DOX localized mainly in the nucleus whereas, CTX-G4.5-PEG-DOX conjugate localized within both cytoplasm and nucleus after 6 hour incubation. The synthesized delivery system represents a potential targeted drug delivery system.


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Date of Submission

May 2012