Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Dr. Jenny Yang

Second Advisor

Dr. Ming Luo

Third Advisor

Dr. Kathryn Grant


As a chronic disease, deaths caused by cancer are estimated to increase to 11.5 million by 2030. Patient response to treatment and chances of survival improves significantly when cancer is diagnosed at an early stage. MRI is a superior imaging modality but is limited due to the low relaxation rates of current contrast agent. Dr. Jenny Yang’s lab engineered a protein-based MRI contrast agent with high relaxation rates. hProca32.collagen contains two cysteine residues and must be refolded to form intra-strand disulfide bonds, which is necessary for its activity. In this thesis, the purification and refolding of hProca32 were optimized to yield a pure protein that is approximately 80% monomer. Various formulation conditions are reported, which allow hProca32.collagen to have a good collagen-binding affinity (1.3 µM). It exhibits good relaxivity values (30 and 42 mM-1s-1 for r1 and r2, respectively), which are 10-fold greater than clinically available contrast agents.


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