Blinn College students and faculty work on cancer cure

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BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX) - College is a time of learning and discovery, but three students at Blinn College in Bryan might be off to an exceptionally successful start.

Kevin Hernandez, Sarah Jarwan and Jonathan Ayala-Rosa spent the fall semester working on a cure for cancer.

"Cancer for me is a big passion of mine. That's what I'd like to work with as I go on into my life and my career. So to be able to impact people's lives at this age, something that actually could be helping people, is just wonderful and amazing," said Jarwan.

The students worked alongside their instructor, Dr. Sameh Abdelwahed.

"I'm going to attach chemically a drug to the thiamine to be able to deliver it into the cell," said Abdelwahed, a Blinn College chemistry instructor.

They mixed a compound with thiamine, a vitamin that goes to cells throughout the body.

"You can attach any drug to the thiamine and depending on the activity of this drug, if it is breast cancer, if it is any kind of cancer, it can be released into the cell and it will kill the cell," said Abdelwahed.

"Hopefully it can target cancer cells rather than just like all cells. That would be bad if it was targeting your normal cells, because it's bad for them. It triggers like cell death," said Kevin Hernandez, a former Blinn College student and current Texas A&M student.

"At first, I didn't realize the magnitude of how big it could have been. It feels a little surreal now," said Jonathan Ayala-Rosa, a Blinn College biology student,

Jonathan and his classmates conducted experiments to build the compound, while their professor managed the theoretical aspects of the chemistry.

"Hopefully it'll inspire other people to kind of take the work from it and come up with their own or also help me to get more research experience," said Ayala-Rosa.

The group members are submitting their work to the National Cancer Institute in Maryland for further testing.

In April, they'll present their findings to the American Chemical Society National Meeting and Exposition in San Francisco.