High school student helps create model to study cancer cells

One high school student in Baton Rouge is helping to develop a 3D model to study cancer cells.
Published: Jan. 8, 2023 at 1:38 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - One high school student in Baton Rouge is helping to develop a 3D model to study cancer cells.

Margaret Moe said she has spent several summers studying the cells under LSU’s College of Engineering. Her studies are taking place as part of LSU’s High School Research Internship Program. It gives students exposure to engineering and research as a way to kickstart a potential career.

“This has been really meaningful to me,” Moe said. “To know that even though what I am doing is such a small part of this technology, to know that in maybe years or decades from now, that research will go to help real patients and people in the hospital who are really suffering from this disease.”

High school student
High school student(wafb)

Specifically, Moe worked with professors to help develop a design that would allow them to study breast cancer cells in a 3D model.

“To find a better way to culture cancer cells outside of the body. So, you think about how cancer exists in the breast. It exists as a three-dimensional tumor. The problem with that is typical methods to culture cancer cells do it in a dish in a 2D surface. So, when you have cells in a 2D monolayer, they behave differently than they do in a three-dimensional environment,” said Adam Melvin, an associate professor in the Cain Department of Chemical Engineering at LSU.

Once Moe is able to isolate the cells, the experiment truly begins.

“Each array will consist of this single droplet which consists of anywhere from 10 to 15 cancer cells, and then we effectively grow our own little tumor. We grow hundreds of them so we can study them. Then, we can have a bunch of experiments going, and then we can look at how they grow, how they respond to drugs,” Melvin said.

It’s a chance for high schoolers to collect data that may help doctors treat patients in the future.

“If you are interested in STEM, and you think that engineering is something that you might want to do, I would definitely say explore that. High school is like a time to experiment and see what you are interested in,” Moe said.

LSU’s College of Engineering is taking applications for its High School Research Internship Program for the summer of 2023. The deadline to submit an application is January 27, 2023. Click here to learn more.

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