Health

Canadian teen discovers cystic fibrosis breakthrough

A 16-year-old from Toronto is the latest wunderkind to prove that however lofty your life goals may be, somewhere, a teenager has already achieved them. Marshall Zhang, a student at Richmond Hill's Bayview Secondary School, may have created a new drug cocktail that will help fight cystic fibrosis, a progressive, fatal genetic disease that eventually results in difficulty digesting food and breathing.

Getty Images

A 16-year-old from Toronto is the latest wunderkind to prove that however lofty your life goals may be, somewhere, a teenager has already achieved them.

Marshall Zhang, a student at Richmond Hill’s Bayview Secondary School, may have created a new drug cocktail that will help fight cystic fibrosis, a progressive, fatal genetic disease that eventually results in difficulty digesting food and breathing.

With the help of a mentor, Zhang used a supercomputer to run virtual drug docking – creating computer simulations of how a drug works — to look into how two new compounds fight cystic fibrosis.

He discovered that they acted on different spots — which meant that they could probably be used together. Then he tested them in combination, and found the results even better than he was expecting.

The research, which he did for the Sanofi-Aventis BioTalent Challenge, won him first prize — and international media attention. He doesn’t seem to be letting it get to his head though: On May 12, he tweeted “wow. the stories i’m hearing from around the world about families and their struggles with CF are truly inspirational. all the best.”

His mentor, Christine Bear, a researcher at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, has invited him back during the summer to continue his research.

“They actually worked together in creating an effect that was greater than the sum of its parts,” she told LiveScience.

 

FILED UNDER: