Posted By: Jen Fad on June 15, 2015 |
Most teenage girls spend their free time gossiping with their friends and figuring out how to outwit their parents.
But Angela Zhang spends her time somewhat more productively-the 17-year-old has found a possible cure for cancer.
The extraordinary high school senior from Cupertino has now been rewarded with a scholarship for $100,000.
At first glance the first generation Chinese schoolgirl, who is learning to drive, seems in many ways an average Californian teenager, CBS News reported.
But when she shared a project she had created in her spare time with her Monta Vista High School, chemistry teacher, Kavita Gupta it was the beginning of an extraordinary sequence of events.
The project an advanced research paper detailing a method for curing cancer was beyond her teacher.
'Cure for cancer -- a high school student,' Gupta told CBS. 'It's just so mind-boggling. I just cannot even begin to comprehend how she even thought about it or did this.'
Angela had always been precocious. As a freshman, she read doctorate level papers on bio-engineering.
In sophomore year she'd talked her way into the lab at Stanford, and by junior year she was doing her own research on the project.
'I just thought, 'Why not?' 'What is there to lose?'' said Angela.
'At first it was a little bit overwhelming,' said Angela, 'but I found that it almost became like a puzzle, being able to decode something.'
Angela's idea was to mix cancer medicine in a polymer that would attach to nanoparticles – These nanoparticles that would then fasten themselves to cancer cells and show up on an MRI allowing doctors to exactly where tumors are.
An infrared light aimed at the tumours would melt the polymer and release the medicine, killing the cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed.
When tested on mice the tumours almost completely disappeared. Although it will be years before scientist will be able to run tests on humans, the results do seem promising.
Meanwhile Angela's paper won her the national Siemens science contest, netting the teen $100,000.
'This is a Cinderella moment for a science nerd like me,' Zhang told the Mercury News.
'I'm excited to learn just everything possible,' she said. 'Everything in the sciences -- biology, chemistry, physics, engineering, even computer science -- to make new innovations possible.'
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