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Lucas Penny

Location: Grimsby, ON

Award: Young Canadians


Year: 2016


Salivary microRNAs as a Novel Tool for Microfluidic Detection of Breast Cancer

Grade 11 student Lucas Penny was focused on finding a successful, low-cost system for detecting breast cancer in its early stages. He found that miRNAs, pieces of specialized genetic material used in regulating gene expression characteristic to breast cancer, could be found in saliva. Penny went on to combine cancer-specific miRNA with specialized quantum dots and from there created a device that indicates the presence or absence of cancer.

The tests cost approximately five dollars, are non-invasive and results are available in less than ten minutes. In time, they may be used to test for other cancers or diseases.