The Ebola virus may be the current epidemic to plague the news, but colon cancer may be a thing of the past. The vaccine for the deadly disease may rest in the mind of a Chicago teenager. 19 year-old biomedical engineer major Keven Stonewall has been working diligently to unlock the secrets to eradicate the fatal disease. According to DNAInfo, Stonewall’s award-winning research on cancer-stricken mice have revealed an age drawback in treating colon cancer. Thanks to Stonewall’s work, a vaccination is being developed for senior citizens, the population most affected.
Stonewall is no stranger to colon cancer. Growing up in Ashburn, the young scientist has had friends family pass away from cancer. During his freshman year at Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, one of Stonewall’s close friends’ family members was diagnosed with cancer. As time progressed, Stonewall witness his friend’s health and grades begin to fail as his family member became increasingly ill and died. Seeing the impact that this disease had on his friend and his life, Stonewall dedicated himself to finding a cure for the fatal disease.
By the time he reached his senior year, Stonewall was already working on working on research to find a cure. While doing an internship at Rush University, he worked within a lab of Immunology/Microbiology and General Surgery. Stonewall’s breakthrough in research came from the discovery that a chemotherapeutic agent could also be used to kill off other cancer cells and build a healthy immune response. Using the same chemotherapeutic agent, Stonewall injected young and old cancer mice with the drug mitoxantrone to measure the immune response of the dendritic cells, growth of tumors, and the likelihood of survival for each mouse. His study proved to be successful for the younger mice. After about three days, the tumorous cells were eradicated in the younger mice and showed an immunity to colon cancer injections. However the older mice were not as fortunate. Not sure whether it was the aged immune system or the fact that the anatomy was not strong enough to fight off the disease, but the older mice still developed growing tumors in spite of the vaccine. Stonewall’s research is a milestone in cancer research and calls for more development of treatment for different age groups afflicted with the fatal disease.
Where many teenagers would be worried about where they would spend their summer, Stonewall spent his sophomore year at University of Wisconsin in Madison testing a colon cancer vaccine that could be used on humans. Often mocked for his diligence and dedication, Stonewall admits that the reticule is nothing new for him. When his was younger, he found a love for science while looking at cells in the microscope. His passion for the sciences would later lead to receiving six scholarships and placement as a finalist in the Intel International Science and Engineer Fair in 2003.
Now a rising sophomore at University of Wisconsin, Stonewall has been praised by his fellow teenaged peers and known around campus as the “colon cancer guy”. With all the accolades and awards for his research on colon cancer vaccinations, Stonewall still remains a humbled individual. Claiming that he attributes all his success and hard work to his parents, both teachers for Chicago public schools, for pushing him to stay focused on his academics. Stonewall still admits that he has awhile to go before he finds a cure for all cancers and helping mankind.
By Tyler Cole