Prized Particles

December 9, 2011

Rheanna Sand

Well, I was all primed to write a self-congratulatory blog about finishing my thesis at the stroke of midnight last night… and then I read about Angela Zhang. Taking seven years to finish a PhD that no one will read… versus developing a cancer-killing and imaging particle at seventeen? Angela wins the blog battle, hands down.


And what have YOU done with your life?

The phenom Zhang is this year's Siemens Competition Grand Prize winner in the Individual category of Math, Science & Technology. Her project was called “Design of Image-guided, Photo-thermal Controlled Drug Releasing Multifunctional Nanosystem for the Treatment of Cancer Stem Cells.” Or, as I would call it, "Proof that it Doesn't Take a 7-Year PhD To Contribute to Society."

What she's done is remarkable - these nanoparticles are delivered to a tumour site by a commonly used drug called salinomycin. Once at the tumour, the nanoparticle delivers a fatal blow, but not before allowing the doctors a good look at the tumour so they can watch the treatment happening in real time. This is because the nanoparticles carry gold and iron oxide components that can be viewed by MRI and other non-invasive imaging methods. Delivering cancer-killing agents in nanoparticles in not new - but Angela Zhang has invented a new technique that combines this with imaging to go after cancer stem cells, which are resistant to many forms of treatment. So, she's basically invented the "swiss army knife" in the fight against cancer.

Man, I can't wait to see what she comes up with in graduate school!


Oh, and did I mention the grand prize was $100,000??!!




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