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9 mai 2012 3 09 /05 /mai /2012 09:42

« Canada : à 16 ans, elle découvre une substance anti-vieillissement »

 

 « Janelle Tam, lycéenne canadienne de Waterloo, en Ontario, a découvert une substance antioxydante pouvant freiner le vieillissement. Sa "potion magique", composée de nano-particules présentes dans la fibre de bois, lui a valu de remporter mardi un concours de biotechnologie ».


« la jeune fille a reçu le premier prix, accompagné d'un chèque de 5 000 dollars, de l'édition 2012 du Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge, dont le jury est composé de chercheurs éminents venant du Conseil national de recherches Canada ».


« la particule appelée NCC (nano-cellulose cristalline) est présente dans les arbres. […] Elle neutralise nombre de radicaux libres nuisibles trouvés dans le corps humain ». 

« la NCC, dont la grandeur se mesure en millièmes de cheveu humain, est non-toxique, stable, soluble dans l'eau et renouvelable, puisqu'elle vient des arbres. Ses utilisations potentielles sont virtuellement illimitées, car elle est plus forte que l'acier mais souple, durable et ultra-légère ».


« un institut national de recherche sur les forêts, FPInnovations, prédit que son marché pourra valoir jusqu'à 250 millions de dollars dans la décennie à venir. La première usine de démonstration de NCC a ouvert ses portes en janvier dernier sur le site de l'usine de pâtes et papiers de Domtar, à Windsor au Québec ».

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Waterloo’s Janelle Tam earns science prize

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Tam Janelle Tam , a 16-year-old Waterloo Collegiate Institute student wins top Canadian honours at national biotechnology competition for a disease-fighting, anti-aging compound she invented using nano-particles from trees.

 

Never play ‘never-have-I-ever’ with Janelle Tam.

“My ‘never-have-I-ever’ is always ‘never have I ever chewed gum,’ ” said the Waterloo Collegiate student on Tuesday, minutes after winning top honours and a $5,000 first prize at a national bio-tech research competition in Ottawa.

“Never chewed gum. People have tried to make me. I’m just like, ‘NO!’ I’m not going to give in.”

Janelle, 16, is admittedly stubborn.

Gets it from her dad Michael, a University of Waterloo chemical engineering professor.

Chew or not, you’ve got to have gumption to spend three to four hours a day in a University of Waterloo lab from September to March to invent a disease-fighting, anti-aging compound.

Once patented, it could be added to health creams or medications to boost effectiveness.

This is no tree-pulp fiction.

Janelle took nano-crystalline cellulose — tiny particles found in timber and measured in thousandths of the width of a human hair — and combined it with buckyballs to create an elixir to fight free radicals, which damage the body and lead to diseases like diabetes and cancer.

Never heard of a buckyball? Let Janelle, who had to present her discovery to a panel of acclaimed brainiacs at the Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge on Monday, explain.

“It’s a hollow sphere of carbon,” she said. “Looks like a soccer ball.”

An anti-oxidant-filled, molecular soccer ball she’ll kick to a Canada-wide science fair in Charlottetown this weekend and the international Sanofi event in Boston on June 18.

A frustrating nano-globe almost kicked her into submission last December.

Three months into her work she realized she had messed up. Her experimental technique was flawed. Her results were as worthless as Leafs playoff tickets.

Janelle wanted to give up. She told her mom Dorothy, a literacy social worker, she was never returning to the lab. Her older sister and former Team Canada science partner Vivienne, could not be leaned on for advice. Vivienne, 19, had left for Princeton.

“We were badminton partners, debate partners,” Janelle said. “It’s almost like I’m missing my other half.”

But Janelle’s dad settled her down.

“He’s one of the most perseverant people I know,” she said. “He tells me that research is about failing and failing and failing. And failures are all steps on the way to success.”

A few weeks later, Janelle had things figured out.

On Tuesday, esteemed scientists proclaimed her the most brilliant of 13 high school students from across the country during a ceremony at the National Research Council of Canada.

But Janelle’s award wasn’t all for egghead endeavours. She had to do a little song-and-dance to back her buckyball kick. The judges gave marks for presentation.

“It’s ‘Canada’s Got Science Talent,’ ” said Mark Lievonen, president of Canadian vaccine-developer Sanofi Pasteur.

Janelle, who came to Canada from Singapore when she was 12, has an English exam on Thursday. Because she skipped Grade 7, she’ll return to Waterloo Collegiate for a victory lap next year, despite being accepted into her dad’s university and the University of Western Ontario.

Her mom, who first encouraged Janelle to enter science fairs, would rather she stay in high school one more year.

“I think part of it is my mom doesn’t want to lose two daughters, one year after the other,” Janelle said. “She also wants me to mature a bit more before I go off on my own.”

Janelle has much left to experience before university — like gum-chewing.

She might agree to give it a try, if you make it worth her while.

“Possibly,” she said. “If I’m paid a million dollars.”

jhicks@therecord.com


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