Canadian kid uses supercomputing to cure cystic fibrosis
16-year-old cops prize for developing drug cocktail
A Canadian teenager has scooped a CAN$5,000 prize and deserved glory after successfully wielding the power of a scientific supercomputing network to develop a mix of drugs which could be used to fight cystic fibrosis.
Marshall Zhang, a Grade 11 student at Bayview Secondary School in Richmond Hill near Toronto, used Canada's collaborative SCINET super-net to model the effects of different compounds on the mutant proteins responsible for cystic fibrosis. The debilitating disease causes the natural protective mucus lining sufferers' lungs to become thick and sticky, forming an inviting environment for potentially fatal infections.
"Marshall's findings show that computational methods can drive the discovery of compounds that may offer effective treatment for cystic fibrosis," comments Dr Christine Bear of Canada's Hospital for Sick Children. Zhang carried out his groundbreaking work in Bear's lab.
Apparently the young scientist suspected that combining two drugs could work more effectively than using one alone. He first modelled the effects of his plan in silico, then proved it using living cells in culture.
"The cells treated with the two drugs were functioning as if they were the cells of healthy individuals," says Zhang. "The thrill of knowing that I was on the forefront of current knowledge was absolutely the best thing about my experience ... getting a taste of real research has definitely driven me towards pursuing science in the future."
The new drug treatment impressed the judges in the 2011 Sanofi-Aventis BioTalent Challenge, leading them to award Zhang first prize on Monday. it should be borne in mind that his new treatment, should it pass through development and testing successfully, would take years to become available.
Other winners in the compo included a trio of youths who developed a way of making vegetarian sorbet. There's more for those interested here. ®
How the world works today:
Be much smarter than average and develop a drug that can cure millions of people = $5,000
Drive a car real fast around a track, kick a ball in a net or hit a ball with a stick = $10m pa
So not only does he get praise for me for being smart and doing some amazing useful work, but he also gains respect for not letting the prospect of getting very little reward for it.
More like him, and less of the overpaid useless morons please! That would mean starting to set rewards right.
Well here's prior art which I make on a regular basis.
500g caster sugar
250ml fresh lemon juice (that's about 6 large lemons)
Zest if you like more lemony goodness
Dissolve the sugar in 750ml water and simmer for a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and add the lemon zest. Allow to cool.
Add the lemon juice. Put in the fridge until really cold.
Place the mixture in an icecream maker and churn until it starts to solidify. If you don't have a machine place in a shallow dish and freeze for an hour. Give it a good forking (fnarrr) to mix the ice with the unfrozen goop. Freeze again for another hour, repeat a couple more times until it is completely slushy. Whisk vigorously then freeze. It'll keep for up to a week in the freezer.
I suspect the cure for cystic fibrosis is somewhat more complex.