Kevin Stonewall, 19, could be on his way to curing cancer.
The Chicago teen, who works at a Rush University lab in Ashburn, discovered a critical age-related drawback in an experimental vaccine to prevent colon cancer in mice.
Stonewall’s revelation has led to the development of a vaccine that could work on seniors. He has spent the last year studying at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where he is researching a colon cancer vaccine that could eventually be tested on humans. The vaccine has the potential to eradicate colon cancer down the road.
“I am very passionate about doing colon cancer research,” Stonewall said. “If it works on humans, I would be overwhelmed. My whole life would flash in front of me.”
His commitment to ending colon cancer stems from his freshman year at the Chicago High School of Agricultural Sciences, when his friend’s uncle was diagnosed with the disease. Stonewall witnessed his friend go from a model student to one with bad grades and trouble outside the classroom as his uncle became sicker and eventually passed away.
“I saw the impact on him and how it impacted his life,” Stonewall said. “Cancer has taken over a whole bunch of lives, and I felt like I needed to step up and do something about it.”
By his junior year, Stonewall began researching a potential colon cancer vaccine while doing an internship at Rush Labs. Stonewall set out to test whether the potential colon cancer vaccine had the same effect on both younger and older mice. He found that after three days of living with the vaccine, all of the younger mice’s tumors were eliminated and they showed immunity to colon cancer.
None of the older mice, however, were responsive to the vaccine leading to tumor growth.
His research helped determine a need for a vaccine that would work on older subjects. This finding is important since more than two-thirds of colon cancer patients are elderly. Stonewall’s research findings were presented at the national meeting for the Society for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer in Washington, D.C., and he is listed as lead author.
Kevin Stonewall gives his parents all the credit for his academic discipline. His father and mother are both educators within Chicago Public Schools.
SOURCE: DNAinfo | VIDEO SOURCE: YouTube