Sometimes posts just write themselves. I don't know how to explain it -- it's as if the universe understands my sense of humor, and then arranges for such events to take place. Our northern neighbors in Canada just hosted a national science contest, which featured some seriously impressive findings by extremely young and talented students. We'll start with first prize:
Marshall Zhang, a Grade 11 student in Richmond Hill, Ont., used the Canadian SCINET supercomputing network at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto to identify how two drugs interacted with a specific part of a mutant protein that's responsible for most cases of CF [cystic fibrosis].
He then proved what he'd found using living cells in culture.
"Not only did they (the drugs) work together, they worked together so well that they actually allowed the cells that were treated with both compounds to function as if they were the cells of healthy individuals," said Zhang, who was awarded a $5,000 prize.
Incredible. This kid is only in the 11th grade. Hats off to you, Marshall.
Want to know what earned second prize?
The second-place prize of $4,000 at the 2011 Sanofi-Aventis BioTalent Challenge went to three 19-year-old students from Montreal who made sorbet without gelatin, potentially opening up a large new vegetarian market for the dessert.
Vegetarian sorbet. Second prize went to a novel way for vegans to eat dessert. I mean, how could this not win first prize? Oh, it's so funny it makes my sides hurt.
Now contrast that with the paleo-friendly third and fourth place prizes:
Third place went to Shannon Watson, 18, of Ottawa, who identified bacteria in a probiotic fermented milk product from Zambia that inhibit the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Yasamin Mahjoub, 16, of Calgary won fourth place for showing that hormones produced by pregnant women protect neurons from the effects of iron accumulation in the brain, a characteristic of multiple sclerosis.
So an 18 year-old discovers a particularly beneficial strain of bacteria from a traditional lacto-fermented food found in a less developed society, and a 16 year-old shows how to harness the natural adaptive intelligence of the human body during pregnancy. If these kids keep going down those paths, they are going to clean up. Alternatively, they could pioneer novel industrial food processing methods to satisfy the conscience and sweet tooth of ideologues.
Guess which team won a bonus $1,000 prize for the finding with the greatest commercial potential? Breakthrough treatment of cystic fibrosis? A new and better antibiotic? An innovative MS treatment? Nope. The judges correctly assessed which product would fly fastest off the shelves: VEGAN SORBET.
That was a good one.
The full article is here. And please don't forget to like or re-tweet this important scientific breakthrough.