Friday, January 13, 2012

Cancer Cure?...This Student Angela Zhang thinks so...and wins $100k


Science fair projects have become much cooler since the days of growing lima beans under different-colored light filters. This year's winners of America's top science honors for high school students used nanotechnology to destroy cancer stem cells and turned Microsoft's Kinect gaming sensor into a design tool for prosthetic limbs. Their reward: $100,000 scholarships for college.
A $100,000 individual grand prize went to Angela Zhang, a senior at Monta Vista High School in Cupertino, Calif., whose nanoparticle system not only allows for noninvasive imaging of tumors, but also delivers drugs to attack cancer cells. Another $100,000 team grand prize was shared by Ziyuan Liu and Cassee Cain, seniors at Oak Ridge High School in Oak Ridge, Tenn., who hacked an Xbox 360 Kinect sensor to analyze the walking patterns of people wearing prosthetics.
The winners announced Monday had competed against 2,436 fellow students who submitted 1,541 projects to the 2011 Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology...

Such projects represent the latest trends in modern science and technology. Zhang's work reflects the growing use of nanotechnology to treat diseases of the human body on the smallest scales. She used gold and iron oxide-based nanoparticles that could act as markers for MRI and photoacoustic imaging, even as it delivered the drug salinomycin to attack cancer tumors.
"Angela created a nanoparticle that is like a Swiss army knife of cancer treatment," said Tejal Desai, a bioengineer at the University of California, San Francisco, and a competition judge. "She showed great creativity and initiative in designing a nanoparticle system that can be triggered to release drugs at the site of the tumor while also allowing for noninvasive imaging."...

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