High School Senior May Have Just Found the Cure For Cancer… And Yes It Works
There’s a serious potential cure for cancer—and it was created by a high school senior.
Angela Zhang, a teenager who recently graduated from high school, may have found a cure for cancer. Over the past few years, she has researched cancer stem cells (CSCs), those pesky cells that are responsible for causing tumor growth yet are often resistant to current cancer therapies.
Zhang found a way to target and kill these CSCs with a revolutionary new nanoparticle system that she likens to a Swiss Army Knife because of its many functions: It is capable of targeting tumors, eradicating cancer cells, and monitoring treatment responses all at the same time.
She designed a gold and iron oxide-based nanoparticle system that attaches to tumors; the gold and iron-oxide components allow the tumors to be visible on MRIs. Once the tumors are visible, they can be targeted individually, and Zhang’s system allows for a controlled release of the cancer drug salinomycin to the site of the tumor.
This revolutionary new treatment would kill the specific cancer cells while leaving surrounding healthy cells unharmed. That would vastly improve the quality of life for cancer patients, meaning no more debilitating chemotherapy treatments, for example.
Her project is called Design of Image-guided, Photo-thermal Controlled Drug Releasing Multifunctional Nanosystem for the Treatment of Cancer Stem Cells, and she won $100,000–first place–in the 2011 Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology for her research.
“At the heart of my nanosystem is the drug delivery capabilities,” Angela wrote to us in an email. “My nanoparticle was designed to be preloaded with a cancer drug that would be released directly and selectively at the tumor site to eradicate cancer cells. The greatest advantage that a drug delivery system has over many current cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, which tends to attack cancer and healthy cells, is minimization of toxicity to non malignant/healthy cells.”
She said that the hope of the project was to “personalize cancer treatment” by improving treatment efficacy while seriously improving the patient’s quality of life during cancer treatment.
When the system was tested on mice, the tumors almost completely disappeared.