- Associated Press - Sunday, March 12, 2017

BRYAN, Texas (AP) - In humble facilities tucked away on the Bryan campus of Blinn College, three students have had the opportunity to help one faculty member in developing what could be a new method of delivering cancer-fighting drugs.

The Eagle (https://bit.ly/2m3gozI ) newspaper reports chemistry professor Sameh Abdelwahed said during the fall 2016 semester, students Kevin Hernandez, Sarah Jarwan and Jonathan Ayala-Rosa helped him to synthesize the drug and assist in the creation of presentation materials for the research.

“I was very lucky to get three smart people working with me,” Abdelwahed said. “We can meet whenever we like and we (treat) it like fun. We don’t (treat) it like some kind of duty to finish.”

Abdelwahed said the research is focused on using cancer cells’ need for a large amount of thiamine - also known as vitamin B1 - as a way to deliver anti-cancer drugs into the desired cells.

“What we did was we took the vitamin B1 and we took the (drug) and we put them together so that the cell was getting the vitamin B1, but it was also getting the drug,” Ayala-Rosa said. “It tricks (the cancer cell) into taking the drug.”

Now that the compound has been developed, Abdelwahed said it will be sent to the National Cancer Institute in Maryland where officials will evaluate its effectiveness.

Hernandez said while working with Abdelwahed on a project with high potential was “intimidating,” it has been an honor to see the professor put his skills into action, describing the meticulous way he conducts his research as “like an art form.”

“Sometimes I think he’s doing magic,” Hernandez said with a laugh.

Looking forward, Abdelwahed said the research is scheduled to be presented in April at the 253rd American Chemical Society National Meeting & Exposition in San Francisco.

For Hernandez, Jarwan and Ayala-Rosa, each of the Blinn College students said they hope to take their experiences from the past semester and apply them to any new research opportunities they are able to participate in. “Research is so hard to get in your first couple years of undergraduate schooling,” Jarwan said. “I’m passionate about (fighting) cancer, so being able to be hands-on with work that could be affecting people’s lives already without being a doctor or anything - it’s nice to have that experience.”

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Information from: The Eagle, https://www.theeagle.com

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