Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Pharmaceutical Sciences


Chemistry and Biochemistry


College of Science & Mathematics


Xiao Hu, PhD

Committee Member 1

Ping Lu, Ph.D.

Committee Member 2

Kandalam Ramanujachary, Ph.D.

Committee Member 3

Sebastián Vega, Ph.D.

Committee Member 4

Samuel Lofland, Ph.D.


biomaterials, corn zein, drug delivery, nanofibers, silk, thin films


Drug delivery systems


Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences


Corn zein and silk are both widely available, easy to extract proteins making them valuable replacements for synthetics. Zein and silk are also promising biomaterials in several applications. This work explores the use of both proteins as drug delivery vehicles by loading 1-Dimensional micro-nanofibers and 2-Dimensional thin films with model drugs or the topical therapeutic sodium citrate. Using a formic acid solvent, powdered zein protein or silk fibers were dissolved into solution and then casted into 2D films or spun into 1D fibers through air-spraying. During dissolution, therapeutic products are added. SEM images showed that fibers maintain their small diameter and porous network at lower amounts of therapeutics. Structural characterization showed that therapeutics could interact and influence secondary protein structure in porous fibers, but not flat films. This interaction improves the thermal integrity of most samples and allowed for greater control of the release of therapeutics from the biomaterial. In summary, the geometry of the biomaterials played an important role in allowing biophysical and biochemical interactions between the therapeutics and the protein structure of the biomaterials. By understanding these interactions, there is more control over material properties and release kinetics. Meanwhile, the fabrication process showed no hindrance on the biocompatibility of the biomaterials in a human cell line.