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Blind Brook's Ariana Bitton Receives Award For Cancer-Detection Project

Ariana Bitton
Ariana Bitton Photo Credit: Contributed

RYE, N.Y. -- Blind Brook High School student senior and Rye Brook resident Ariana Bitton, has received the Acorda Scientific Excellence Award for her research project.

After an internship with the Organized Crime Task Force division of the Attorney General’s Office inspired Bitton to dedicate her research to a cause that could empower women, she ultimately began working with a team at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center focused on new ways to diagnose ovarian cancer.

For her project titled “Efficient Zr89 Radiolabeling of MUC16 Antibody for ImmunoPET,” Bitton set out to see if a certain antibody called 29G9 could be altered with radiation to help identify cancer cells.

The 29G9 antibody is designed specifically to bond with a protein called MUC16 that is often expressed in ovarian cancer, so if she could infuse the antibody with radiation without affecting its functions, it could potentially deliver that radiation directly to the MUC16 proteins in the cancer cells, making them much more visible on PET scans.

To test the effectiveness of their theory, Bitton and her mentor applied radiation to the antibody, or “radiolabeled” it, over time in various settings to see how the potency of the radiation would diminish. At the end of the study, Ariana had found the optimal conditions for the radiolabeling process and determined that a radiolabeled 29G9 antibody remained stable throughout the process and effectively retained radiation.

These radiolabeled antibodies will make ovarian cancer cells “light up” and stand out from healthy tissue during a PET scan. As it can be difficult to see the extent of an ovarian tumor through regular imaging, these radiolabeled antibodies could lead to a new effective noninvasive cancer imaging technique.

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