Local high school students discover early detection of ovarian cancer
SAN DIEGO – A couple of teenagers have discovered a way to detect ovarian cancer early. Gitanjali and Priyanka Multani aren’t even high school seniors yet, but are on the path toward saving lives.
CW6 News had the opportunity to visit the lab at UCSD Friday.
Gitanjali and Priyanka are identical twins who attend Torrey Pines High School. They spend hours each week conducting cancer research – and their motivation comes from a personal place.
At just 15-years-old, Gitanjali was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Surgery put her in remission and launched her life of research. The high schooler’s wrote up a proposal and contacted 52 labs. Very few took them seriously. Finally, UCSD provided the opportunity.
“We give them the platform and the chance. They do all the work themselves. They are smarter than most students we have who come through our lab,” Preston Landon said, who is a research scientist at UCSD.
“We’re giving them a chance, and we’re hoping they become better than us,” Dr. Ratnesh Lal said.
Before they’re even done with college, their medical breakthrough could become standard protocol at a woman’s annual exam and detecting ovarian cancer could come earlier than ever before.
“We’ve created a blood test essentially, so it’s non-invasive, easier and more cost effective,” Gitanjali said.
After more than a year of trial and error and hours in the lab, they finally got the results they were looking for. The Multani twins discovered a way to detect cancer proteins, at lower concentrations.
The future looks bright. The twins are hoping to study bio-engineering in college, all while conducting clinical trials with ovarian cancer patients, getting published, and getting businesses to sponsor their research.
“I definitely want to get it into journals, and a Nobel Peace Prize would be cool,” Priyanka said.
So far, they have been successful at the Regional and State Science Fairs.