Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Hu Yang

Second Advisor

Daniel Conway

Third Advisor

Rebecca Heise

Fourth Advisor

Shahid Husain

Fifth Advisor

Uday Kompella

Sixth Advisor

Ning Zhang



By Michael G. Lancina III

A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Virginia Commonwealth Univeristy, 2017.

Major Director: Dr. Hu Yang, Associate Professor, Chemical and Life Science Engineering

Control over the distribution of therapeutic compounds is a complex and somewhat overlooked field of pharmaceutical research. When swallowing a pill or receiving an injection, it is commonly assumed that drug will spread throughout the body in a more or less uniform concentration and find its way to wherever it is needed. In truth, drug biodistribuition is highly non-uniform and dependent on a large number of factors. The development of advanced drug delivery systems to control biodistribution can produce significant advances in clinical treatments without the need to discover new therapeutic compounds. This work focuses on a number of nanostructured materials designed to improve drug delivery by direct and efficient transfer of drugs across one of the body’s external mucous membranes.

Chapter 1 outlines the central concept that unites these studies: nanomaterials and cationic particles can be used to delivery therapeutic compounds across mucous membranes. Special attention is given to dendritic nanoparticles. In chapter 2, uses for dendrimers in ocular drug delivery are presented. The studies are divided into two main groups: topical and injectable formulations. Chapter 3 does not involve dendrimers but instead another cationic particle used in transmembrane drug delivery, chitosan. Next, a dendrimer based nanofiber mat was used to deliver anti-glaucoma drugs in chapter 4. A three week in vivo efficacy trial showed dendrimer nanofiber mats outperformed traditional eye drops in terms of intra-ocular pressure decrease in a normotensive rat model. Finally, we have developed a new dendrimer based anti-glaucoma drug in chapter 5. Collectively, these studies demonstrate some of the potential applications for nanotechnology to improve transmembrane drug delivery. These particles and fibers are able to readily adhere and penetrate across epithelial cell lays. Utilizing these materials to improve drug absorption through these portals has the potential to improve the clinical treatment of wide variety of diseases.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission


Included in

Biomaterials Commons