Improving Cancer Treatment
An experimental therapy that deploys gold nanoparticles in the fight
against cancer won this 16-year-old high school student from Alberta,
Canada, top national honors in the 2013 Sanofi Bio-GENEius Challenge
Nair, an 11th-grade student at Webber Academy in Calgary, received the
top prize of $5000 from a panel of eminent Canadian scientists assembled
at the Ottawa headquarters of the National Research Council of Canada.
Nair’s research project, mentored at the University of Calgary, advances
a photothermal therapy (PTT) that involves injecting a patient with
gold nanoparticles that accumulate in tumors, forming “nanobullets” that
can be light-heated to kill cancer cells. PTT has shown promise but
isn’t that effective because cancer cells fight back, producing
heat-shock proteins to protect themselves.
Nair showed how an antibiotic (17-AAG) may overcome the cancer’s
defenses and make the treatment more effective. His research, which a
panel of expert judges led by Dr. Luis Barreto called “world-class
master’s- or Ph.D.-level quality,” also won a special $1000 prize
awarded to the project with the greatest commercial potential.
“Proof of concepts were developed and tested in order to demonstrate the
viability of PTT,” Nair said. “Moreover, after analyzing the
literature, a mathematical model was developed to evaluate a theoretical
Eleven students from nine Canadian regions, all just 16 to 18 years old,
took part in the national finals. Each had placed first at regional
SBCC competitions this spring.
MORE FROM PHOTONICS MEDIA