Date of Award

Fall 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

James F. Leary

Second Advisor

Riyi Shi

Committee Chair

James F. Leary

Committee Co-Chair

Riyi Shi

Committee Member 1

Mary Wirth

Committee Member 2

Alyssa Panitch


Acrolein, a very reactive aldehyde, is a culprit in the biochemical cascade after primary, mechanical spinal cord injury (SCI), which leads to the destruction of tissue initially unharmed, referred to as "secondary injury". Additionally, in models of multiple sclerosis (MS) and some clinical research, acrolein levels are significantly increased. This aldehyde overwhelms the natural anti-oxidant system, reacts freely with proteins, and releases during lipid peroxidation (LPO), effectively regenerating its self. Due to its ability to make more copies of itself in the presence of tissue via lipid peroxidation, researchers believe that acrolein plays a role in the increased destruction of the central nervous system in both SCI and MS. Hydralazine, an FDA-approved hypertension drug, has been shown to scavenge acrolein, but its side effects and short half life at the appropriate dose for acrolein scavenging must be improved for beneficial clinical translation. Due to the inefficient delivery of therapeutic drugs, nanoparticles have become a major field of exploration for medical applications. Based on their material properties, they can help treat disease by delivering drugs to specific tissues, enhancing detection methods, or a mixture of both. Nanoparticles made from silica provide distinct advantages. They form porous networks that can carry therapeutic molecules throughout the body. Therefore, a nanomedical approach has been designed using silica nanoparticles as a porous delivery vehicle hydralazine. The silica nanoparticles are formed in a one-step method that incorporates poly(ethylene) glycol (PEG), a stealth molecule, directly onto the nanoparticles. As an additional avenue for study, a natural product in green tea, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), has been explored for its ability to react with acrolein, disabling its reactive capabilities. Upon demonstration of attenuating acrolein, EGCG's delivery may also be improved using the nanomedical approach. The nanoparticles' physical characteristics were characterized and their interactions in vitrowere studied for cytotoxicity and potential activity in attenuating neuronal damage.