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Krtin Nithiyanandam is hoping to gain interest from the scientific community to develop the work further
A 16-year-old boy claims to have discovered the cure for one of the most dangerous forms of breast cancer.
Krtin Nithiyanandam from Epsom, Surrey, believes he has found a way to turn the most deadly form of triple negative breast cancer into one which is responsive to treatment.
The teenager, who won the Google Science Fair in 2015 for creating an Alzheimer’s test which can spot early signs of the disease, has been working on the therapy in his school lab.
“Most cancers have receptors on their surface which bind to [treatment] drugs like Tamoxifen but triple negative don’t have receptors so the drugs don’t work,” Krtin told The Telegraph.
“The prognosis for women with undifferentiated [where the cells get stuck in a dangerous aggressive form] cancer isn’t very good so the goal is to turn the cancer back to a state where it can be treated.”
“The ID4 protein actually stops undifferentiated stem cell cancers from differentiating [a form where the cells tend to grow and multiply slowly] so you have to block ID4 to allow the cancer to differentiate.”
“I have found a way to silence the genes that produce ID4 which turns cancer back into a less dangerous state,” Krtin added.
He has also discovered that upping the activity of a tumour suppressor gene called PTEN allows chemotherapy to work more effectively, so the dual treatment could prove far more effective than traditional drugs.
The therapy idea, which saw him shortlisted for the final of The Big Bang Fair competition, would most likely be delivered in a nanoparticle containing RNA – the messenger molecule which carries instructions from the DNA. The RNA nanoparticle would be encoded to silence or boost gene activity.
Krtin has so far been working on the therapies in his school lab and at home but he is hoping to gain interest from the scientific community to develop the work further.
“The next stage of research would be studying the effects of increased PTEN expression in more detail but also trying to develop a system which would allow me to successfully introduce PTEN and the ID4 inhibitors in vivo,” he added.
Breast cancer charities said new methods to treat triple negative cancer are needed.
“Breast cancer cells are routinely tested for ‘receptors’ to see what’s helping them to grow. The three most commonly used tests are for oestrogen, progesterone and a protein called HER2.”
“Triple negative breast cancer does not have these receptors and so much less in known about what makes it grow. Thus, it can be difficult to treat successfully. There are fewer treatment options available – hormone therapy, such as Tamoxifen, and most targeted therapy drugs, like Herceptin, are of no benefit.”
“Overall triple negative breast cancer has a worse outlook in the first few years. However, it often responds well to chemotherapy and longer term survival is similar to other types of breast cancer.”
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