• Fri, Dec 9 2011

17-Year-Old Develops “Revolutionary” Cancer Treatment, Proves Not All Teens Are Stupid

Teens may be too dumb to self-administer Plan B (at least according to Kathleen Sebelius) but they sure can do other amazing stuff–like developing nanoparticles that kill cancer. That’s what Angela Zhang, who was awarded the individual first place prize ($100,000) at the Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology for her development. What, that’s not what you were doing at 17?

Zhang, who is a high school senior from Cupertino, California, presented her project, entitled “Design of Image-guided, Photo-thermal Controlled Drug Releasing Multifunctional Nanosystem for the Treatment of Cancer Stem Cells” this weekend in Washington DC. She was given the award on Monday.

The project, hailed as “revolutionary”, combines imaging (the nanoparticle is comprised of metals that make an MRI possible) and therapy (they also deliver targeted doses of salinomycin, a drug that kills cancer). It is basically amazing, and could spur further research into this potential treatment for aggressive cancers.

Runners up in the competition presented solutions for packing items into a space more effectively using mathematics and advanced chemistry applications in medicine (including potential treatments for childhood liver failure and Parkinson’s). The team who won the first place prize for groups (also $100,000) used the XBox Kinnect to study human gait for therapeutic and training purposes.

The Siemens Competition has a long-standing tradition of highlighting the scientific and mathematical advancements of incredible young people–and making the rest of us feel a little bad about not doing things like curing cancer. But mostly, it’s inspirational to see so many teenagers who are able to develop complex experiments and solutions to problems.

See? Some young people may be capable of doing really, really impressive things.  Maybe Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., makers of Plan B, could hire some of these young medical minds to help them write more explicit, Health and Human Services-approved instructions to ensure that people their age could understand how to take an over-the-counter pill.

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