“Overall, my goal in life is just to try to save a life. So, if that’s finding a cure for colon cancer then that’s my call,” 19-year-old Keven Stonewall humbly stated during an interview with DNAinfoRadio.
Keven Stonewall’s devotion to finding a cure for colon cancer occurred after he witnessed a family friend lose a loved one to the disease. Stonewall, a freshman at Chicago’s High School for Agricultural Sciences at the time, also noticed the sudden ripple effect of devastation that accompanied the families of victims of colon cancer and it sparked what many are considering an act of heroism.
“I saw the impact on him and how it impacted his life,” Stonewall said.”Cancer has taken over a whole bunch of lives, and I felt like I needed to step up and do something about it.”
From then on, Stonewall began researching the disease and spending countless hours behind high-tech microscopes. Well before his senior year of high school, he began researching potential colon cancer vaccines while interning at Rush Hospital, located on the near west side of Chicago. According to his research, Stonewall used a high concentration of mitoxantrone — a prescription drug that treats certain types of cancers. He administered this vaccine to young and old mice and then injected the vaccinated mice with aggressive colon cancer cells. Afterwards, he measured responses, including the makeup of key immune cells called dendritic cells, as well as tumor growth and survival rates. His findings? The younger mice had an immunity to colon cancer and their tumors were completely eliminated. On the other hand, none of the older mice were protected and the tumor production rapidly increased.
So what does Stonewall’s findings suggest? Andrew Zlora, an assistant professor of Immunology/Microbiology & Internal Medicine at Rush, stated:
“Drugs may not work the same in people of different ages. This means that age may have to be a factor when physicians choose which drugs and what dosage to use in people of different ages,” Zlora said. “This is something already taken into account for children versus adults, but now adults may need to be separated into groups by age.”
In other words, Stonewall’s research suggests that there is a need for a vaccine that works for older people, especially when two-thirds of colon cancer patients are elderly.
Stonewall is currently studying biomedical engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his genius has earned him numerous science fair awards, including being a student finalist at the 2013 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF), the world’s largest international pre-college science competition.
Listen to Stonewall’s interview with DNAinfo Radio below:[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/157042424″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]