While most 19-year-olds are figuring out their semester schedules in college, Chicago teen Keven Stonewall is on the path to finding a cure for colon cancer.
Since his senior year of high school, Stonewall has been working on a potential colon cancer vaccine at a Rush University lab, according to DNA Info.
“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.”
While friends - who often mocked him for his scientific endeavor - were out on vacation, Stonewall was locked away in his lab.
“I was one of the few kids who were engaged,” Stonewall said. “At first they were making fun of me, like ‘Come on man, why you want to be in the lab all day?’”
But all of his hard work and dedication seems to be paying off as much of his lab time has produced real results.
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."
So far Stonewall has won numerous awards for his research and was a finalist for the Intel International Science and Engineer Fair in 2013.
He’s now a rising sophomore at the University of Wisconsin working on a vaccine that he says he hopes could one day be tested on humans.
Stonewall, who’s the son of Chicago public school educators, says he first showed interest in science back in the fifth grade when he got microscopes for Christmas.
Eventually he’s hoping to create a vaccine that will cure colon cancer once and for all.
“If you don’t plan to succeed, you’re planning to fail,” Stonewall said.
(Photo: Victory is Never Merciless)