High School Student develops Nanotechnology that Kills Cancer Cells

by Paul Martin -

Today I learned about another great advance in medical technology.  This one could be another very important step toward the eradication of cancer, and it was developed by a high school student.  Nanotechnology has helped 17-year-old Angela Zhang to develop what one fellow researcher’s calling the “Swiss Army knife of cancer treatment,” as her gold and iron-oxide nanoparticle does double duty delivering the drug salinomycin to the site of a tumor, in addition to aiding MRI and photoacoustic imaging.

Design of Image-guided, Photo-thermal Controlled Drug Releasing Multifunctional Nanosystem for the Treatment of Cancer Stem Cells – Biochemistry

MENTOR: Dr. Zhen Cheng, Stanford University

“I was surprised by the survival rate of patients who had undergone current cancer therapy.”

Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are responsible for initiating and driving tumor growth yet are often resistant to current cancer therapies. In her research, Angela Zhang aimed to design a CSC-targeted, gold and iron oxide-based nanoparticle with a potential to eradicate these cells through a controlled delivery of the drug salinomycin to the site of the tumor. The multifunctional nanoparticle combines therapy and imaging into a single platform, with the gold and iron-oxide components allowing for both MRI and Photoacoustic imaging. This nanosystem could potentially help overcome cancer resistance, minimize undesirable side effects, and allow for real-time monitoring of treatment efficacy.

Angela, a senior, is interested in nanomedicine and molecular imaging because they allow her “to transform my interests in physics, chemistry, and biology into solutions for current health problems.” She won the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF) 2011 Grand Award and the ISEF 2010 Grand Award (both for medicine and health science), and a trip to attend the Taiwan International Science Fair awarded by the National Taiwan Science Education Center. Angela planned and executed a fundraiser that raised over $5,000 a year for the Monta Vista Interact International Night and has participated in the Jade Ribbon Youth Council to raise awareness about Hepatitis B. She plays golf and the piano and would like to major in chemical or biomedical engineering or physics. She is a 2010 Siemens Competition Regional Finalist who put in 1,000 hours on her current project. Angela hopes to become a research professor.

via Siemens and George Washington University

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