Possible Cancer Cure Discovered by High School Student
Have your students ever complained that learning science in school is irrelevant? Have they ever said something like this: “Everything has already been invented already, so what’s the point?” Well, perhaps a seventeen-year-old high school student from Cupertino, California, can prove otherwise.
Angela Zhang, otherwise a typical American teenager, began working on a cure for cancer during her freshman year reading doctorate level bioengineering research papers in her spare time. She looked at it like a puzzle that needed solving. By her junior year, she was conducting her own research at a lab at Stanford University. CBS news reporter Steve Hartman best summarized what Angela discovered.
Angela’s idea was to mix cancer medicine in a polymer that would attach to nanoparticles—nanoparticles that would then attach to cancer cells and show up on an MRI so doctors could see exactly where the tumors are. Then she thought that if you aimed an infrared light at the tumors to melt the polymer and release the medicine, thus killing the cancer cells while leaving healthy cells completely unharmed.
Her theory so far has been successful in killing tumors in mice; however, it will take many years before the same can be said for people.
Angela recently entered her research at the Siemens Foundation Annual High School Competition, where she took home the grand prize of $100,000.
You can watch the full CBS interview with Angela below:
As your students prepare for their own science fair projects this spring, remind them that they should not let their age or lack of experience prevent them from pursuing scientific research that interests them. They just might end up affecting the lives of millions of people and potentially earn a cash reward in the process!