Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MSc)



Program Name/Specialization

Integrative Biology


Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Stephanie DeWitte-Orr

Advisor Role



An estimated 1 in 70 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in their lifetime. Despite advanced detection and treatment methods, it remains a silent killer with an expected survival rate of 50%. A developing method in cancer treatment is the use of compounds that stimulate the immune system to aid in the body's fight against the disease. This project focused on the use of the potent immune stimulant double-stranded RNA (dsRNA), commercially available as polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid, poly(I:C), to induce cytotoxicity in two ovarian cancer cell lines; SKOV-3 and OVCAR-3. Some challenges exist with the delivery of dsRNA due to its large size and negative charge. The use of phytoglycogen nanoparticles (PhG) can overcome this hurdle to deliver dsRNA to cells. qRT-PCR and ELISA results showed that the cells could respond to PhG-poly(I:C) by producing CXCL-10. When treated with the PhG-poly(I:C) complex fold change of CXCL-10 expression increased by 100 to 1000-fold over poly(I:C) alone. The PhG-poly(I:C) complex also induced cytotoxicity in the cells. Additionally, when used in conjunction with cisplatin, a common chemotherapeutic, PhG-poly(I:C), increased the drug's efficacy. The present study demonstrates the potential for using PhG nanoparticles as a delivery method for dsRNA to be used as an adjuvant to increase the efficacy of current chemotherapy regimens.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season