July 20, 2011

Americans on top as girl power sweeps through Google’s first science fair

Forget about the classic volcano or solar system display, these kids are performing medical trials!!

From The International Herald Tribune:

Americans on top as girl power sweeps through Google's first science fair

NEW YORK — As a budding inventor and scientist, Shree Bose, in second grade, tried to make blue spinach. In fourth grade, she built a remote-controlled garbage can. In eighth grade, she invented a railroad tie made of recycled plastic and granite dust, an achievement that got her to the top 30 in a national science competition for middle school students.

In 11th grade, Ms. Bose, a 17-year-old in Fort Worth, Texas, tackled ovarian cancer, and that research won her the grand prize and $50,000 in the Google Science Fair last week.

For the winning research, Ms. Bose looked at a chemotherapy drug, cisplatin, that is commonly taken by women with ovarian cancer. The problem is that the cancer cells tend to grow resistant to cisplatin over time, and Ms. Bose set out to find a way to counteract that.

She found the answer in a cellular energy protein known as AMPK, or adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase. She observed that when AMPK was paired with cisplatin at the beginning of treatment, the combination diminished the effectiveness of cisplatin. But added later on, when the cancer cells were growing resistant, the AMPK worked to maintain the effectiveness of cisplatin, allowing it to continue killing the malignant cells, at least in cell cultures.

''That opens up a lot of new avenues for research,'' Ms. Bose said. Her research was supervised by Dr. Alakananda Basu at the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth.

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