In the battle to beat cancer, everyone is looking the elusive silver bullet. In this case, the bullet may actually be made of gold, and it has been developed by a 16-year-old. Indian-born Arjun Nair has been awarded a $5,000 prize from the Ottawa headquarters of the National Research Council of Canada for his work as part of the 2013 Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge Canada (SBCC). Using the experimental method of Photothermal therapy (PTT), the nanobullet he devised would inject cancer-killing gold particles to seek out and destroy the harmful cells.
By advancing PTT technology, Nair was looking to find a way to treat cancer without having to blanket the body with radiation or harmful chemicals. After entering the body, gold particles accumulate on tumors. When bathed in laser light, they heat up, destroying the areas to which they have attached.
For the past several years, Nair worked under the mentorship of David Cramb at the University of Calgary. His current challenge is to find a way to weaken cancer cells targeted by PPT. He has singled out the antibiotic 17-AAG to attack the cell’s defenses in the form of heat shock proteins and has done tests on live tissue cultures. Animal subjects could not be far off in the future.
“I’ve entered science competitions since Grade 5. I really enjoy taking my ideas and making them happen in real life,” said Nair in a press release. In good company with other high school students who have made strides in cancer research, this ingenious student shows a promising future in developing groundbreaking cancer treatment.
Image via Wikicommons user Fae.