*Fascinated by science since fifth grade, when he studied the appearance of cells under a microscope, the parents of Keven Stonewall knew the perfect Christmas gift for their son would be four microscopes.
He felt compelled to find a cure for colon cancer during his freshman year at the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, where he watched a dear friend’s uncle succumb to the disease and saw how the illness negatively impacted his school mate, telling DNAInfo Chicago, “Cancer has taken over a whole bunch of lives, and I felt like I needed to step up and do something about it.”
He jumped at an opportunity to do an internship at the university that serves as the academic arm of the Rush Medical Center when he became a senior, and worked in the lab; where a professor taught immunology/microbiology and general surgery. He studied literature on how a chemotherapeutic agent could possibly destroy certain cancer cells while still promoting a healthy immune response.
Eager to put his research into motion, Stonewall began testing his potential vaccine on mice. He injected a concentrated amount of the cancer-treating drug Mitoxantrone in younger and older mice; then he injected the rodents with aggressive colon cancer cells.
Stonewall waited three days to check out the effects of his experiment: The younger mice benefitted from the vaccine as their cancer was in fact eradicated and they had developed immunity. The older mice were still riden with the cancerous tumors.
According to Rush lab’s Director Dr. Carl Ruby, Stonewall’s experiment was quite a breakthrough as scientists now see that a special vaccine is needed for older cancer subjects: Colon cancer is more prevalent among the elderly. Ruby spoke to DNAInfo Chicago about Stonewall, saying, “[He] should be heralded for helping to develop more effective colon cancer treatments that will impact the elderly, the population that is most susceptible to colon cancer. He has all the tools. He will go far.”
To read more on where Stonewall and his research stands today, visit NewsOne here.