He’s only 19-years-old, but he may one day hold the key to curing colon cancer. Keven Stonewall, from Chicago, was already working on a potential colon cancer vaccine in a lab at Rush University during his senior year of high school. It was that research that led him to reveal a critical age-related drawback in an experimental vaccine aimed at preventing colon cancer in mice.
“My friends, family members have died from cancer,” Stonewall said in a VNM video. “A lot of people are impacted by cancer. So I felt it was my role to step up and do something about it.”
For his experiment, Stonewall injected a special high concentration of cancer-treating drug mitoxantrone into younger and older mice. He then injected the mice with aggressive colon cancer cells. After three days, Stonewall noticed that his experimental vaccine was 100% effective on young mice — their tumors were gone and they showed immunity to colon cancer. But the older mice were still afflicted by the cancer cells.
His lab director at Rush University, Carl Ruby, said that Stonewall’s experiment helped scientists realize that they needed a special vaccine for older subjects.
The teen “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.” Ruby said.
“He has all the tools. He will go far,” Ruby added.
Currently Stonewall is a rising sophomore at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, working on a vaccine that he says he hopes could one day be tested on humans.