Meet the Windsor ninth grader whose research could lead to future anti-aging drugs

·2 min read
Tesko Chaganti, who is in Grade 9 at Vincent Massey Secondary School, has recently won several awards including gold at Windsor's regional science fair. That qualified him to compete at the national event, where he earned a silver medal. (Submitted by Subba Rao Chaganti - image credit)
Tesko Chaganti, who is in Grade 9 at Vincent Massey Secondary School, has recently won several awards including gold at Windsor's regional science fair. That qualified him to compete at the national event, where he earned a silver medal. (Submitted by Subba Rao Chaganti - image credit)

Is the fountain of youth in your fridge or cupboard? A Grade 9 student at Vincent Massey Secondary School in Windsor says it's possible.

Tesko Chaganti's research is winning him local and national accolades. Tesko won a silver medal at the Canada-Wide Science Fair after winning gold at the Windsor regional event, plus the Sanofi Biogenius Award and several other honours.

The project is called Unraveling the Secrets of Anti-aging. Using simulations through advanced bioinformatics, Tesko looked at 70,000 natural compounds to see which ones inhibit a protein found within senescent cells, a class of cells associated with aging and age-related disease.

"My hypothesis was: Can we find a solution to aging that is affordable and easy to access for all of humanity?," he said.

The preliminary results were positive.

"I did find some very promising results that it could lead to future anti-aging drugs," he said.

He discovered five natural compounds that have potential senolytic activity, meaning they could destroy the harmful senescent cells. (Researchers are currently studying senolytic drugs.)

Further, Tesko's work revealed that several common foods, including chestnuts, blackberries and saffron, contained these compounds in high levels.

Submitted by Subba Rao Chaganti
Submitted by Subba Rao Chaganti

Christa Braccio, a teacher at Massey who is a sponsor for its science fair, helped Tesko get registered and submit his project for the national fair, which was held virtually last month.

"It's very advanced research," she said. "For his age, he's in Grade 9, so just to see that is really cool."

Tesko's project didn't end there. He has been published through a scientific pre-preprint server, bioRxiv. He plans to make a few changes to the manuscript before submitting his research to a peer-reviewed journal.

Ultimately, he wants to study medicine and is considering the immunology field.

Proud father

Tesko's father, Subba Rao Chaganti, is thrilled. He didn't imagine his son, at his grade level, would be looking at topics like senescence in cells.

A microbiologist himself, Subba Rao expressed gratitude for the educators providing a platform for his son to pursue this passion.

"He's interested from the science fairs and the science fair people who are organizing locally and nationally, they are putting a lot of effort into this," he said.

"Without this support, there is no way that this could have happened."

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