Tuesday, May 17, 2011

High School Student Makes Medical Breakthrough

Teen wins top prize for cystic fibrosis discovery
...Toronto-area high school student Marshall Zhang took first place this week at a national science contest for developing what could become a new drug cocktail to treat patients with CF, a genetic disorder that affects the lungs and digestive system.

Zhang, a Grade 11 student in Richmond Hill, Ont., used the Canadian SCINET supercomputing network at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto to identify how two compounds interacted with a protein on a mutant gene that's responsible for most cases of CF, called Delta F508.

Using the computer modeling, he looked at what these compounds might do at the molecular level to "correct" the genetic defect that marks CF. He found that two drugs each interacted with different parts of the mutant protein and then worked together in a whole new way as well.

"Originally, I thought it would be a 'one plus one equals two' kind of thing, but when we got our results back from the lab, it actually turned out that one plus one equals three. The two compounds were working together synergistically to correct that disease-causing defect," Zhang told CTV's Canada AM Thursday

"But beyond that, I've also laid a foundation for future structure-based drug design, in identifying certain chemical structures that have a key role in correcting that defect."...
 My experiences with High School Science Fairs have not been this good...

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