Project A ONE-TWO PUNCH FOR CANCER

Jimmy had dreams of people living a lot longer with regular injections of telomerase enzyme, which can extend the life of cells almost indefinitely. But he quickly learned just how dangerous that would be: Telomerase is what enables cancer cells to keep dividing forever. So he decided to switch directions and investigate the enzyme's role in cancer cells and see if telomerase inhibitors would help improve conventional cancer treatments.

In a two-part study, one with breast-cancer cells and the other with cervical-cancer cells, Jimmy tested all combinations of enzyme inhibitor, chemotherapy, and radiation. He found that long-term inhibition of telomerase in conjunction with either chemo or radiation, or both, "definitely improves the cancer-kill rate," he says. But in analyzing his data, Jimmy also spotted indications that the order in which treatments are administered may affect the outcome.

Inhibiting telomerase is still being studied by the medical community. There are concerns about side effects on telomerase-expressing stem cells, for example. Only a handful of clinical trials are under way. If inhibitors are approved for treating cancer, Jimmy expects combination therapies will soon become a staple approach.


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INTEL SCIENCE SEARCH FINALIST Jimmy C. Yang

Jimmy C. Yang


Essay:

Don't Choke Off the Flow of Immigrants


Plano Senior High School
Plano, Tex.


Hobbies: Violin, piano, raising orchids, community service


Ambition: Physician or medical research