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Aditi Avinash

Rock Canyon High School
Highlands Ranch, CO

Model Validation and Preclinical Testing of Digestive Enzymes for Gluten Breakdown: A Move to Cure Gluten Intolerance and Celiac Disease

Aditi Avinash found a combination of three enzymes effectively break down gluten proteins, which she believes has therapeutic potential for those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. She found that combining the enzymes was more effective than giving them sequentially, both in breaking down gluten and in reducing T-cell immune response, potentially leading to new treatments for celiac disease.

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Aditi Avinash, 17, of Castle Pines, found a mixture of three enzymes that she believes could one day be used to reduce the effects of gluten intolerance for her Regeneron Science Talent Search medicine and health project. Aditi tested three enzymes derived from fruits that had previously been shown to break down gluten proteins in experimental settings mimicking the acidic stomach environment.

Her work indicated that combining the enzymes was more effective in breaking down gluten and reducing the immune response of T-cells than administering the enzymes sequentially. Aditi envisions creating a pill that would prevent the discomfort caused by celiac disease and gluten intolerance, allowing people with these conditions to eat wheat products.

2024 Science Talent Search finalist Aditi Avinash
Society for Science/Chris Ayers Photography

Aditi attends Rock Canyon High School in Highlands Ranch, where she is president of the Science National Honors Society and Health Occupations Students of America. She’s also a classically trained Indian Kuchipudi dancer and Carnatic singer and can identify any Taylor Swift song within five seconds. The daughter of Padma Avinash and Senthil Avinash, Aditi wants to earn her MD and PhD to combine “clinical compassion” with her “love of research.”

2024 Science Talent Search finalist Aditi Avinash
Society for Science/Chris Ayers Photography

Beyond the Project

As a volunteer at a local hospital, Aditi decided to become a certified nursing assistant to help the nurses and serve the patients more directly. She has also accrued 100 hours shadowing physicians.

FUN FACTS: Troubled by the widespread confusion she witnessed about COVID-19, Aditi started a blog dedicated to increasing science literacy for laypeople.

Illustration of 2024 STS finalist by Amy Wike
Illustration by Amy Wike