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Ekansh Mittal

Westview High School
Portland, OR

Harnessing Machine Learning and 3D Spheroid Cultures To Identify Biomarkers for Combating Drug Resistance in Breast Cancer

Ekansh Mittal identified genes responsible for drug resistance in breast cancer chemotherapy treatments. He tested one gene, IGF1R, for its impact on drug resistance of cancer cells by using modern in vitro three-dimensional spheroid culture methods. His research potentially could lead to more effective breast cancer treatments by addressing drug resistance.

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Ekansh Mittal, 17, of Beaverton, investigated genes responsible for drug resistance in breast cancer treatments for his Regeneron Science Talent Search cellular and molecular biology project. Using a combination of computational biology and in vitro approaches, Ekansh identified over 30 genes that predicted drug resistance and statistically poor outcomes in breast cancer patients using a machine-learning approach.

He focused on one gene, called IGF1R, and its impact on existing cancer treatments and found that inhibiting IGF1R significantly increased the death of cancer cells. He used the recently developed technique of spheroid culture, a 3D cell culture method that mimics tumor cells more accurately than prior 2D methods to validate his results. Ekansh believes that his approach to identifying potential drug resistance genes provides a strong platform to find new targets cancer treatments.

2024 Science Talent Search finalist Ekansh Mittal

Ekansh, the son of Jayesh Mittal and Anupriya Agarwal, attends Westview High School in Portland. He is first author on a paper published in the journal Sensors and founded a nonprofit to prepare students for math and computer science contests. After being delayed by the pandemic he expects to earn his mixed martial arts black belt in 2024.

2024 Science Talent Search finalist Ekansh Mittal

Beyond the Project

Last summer, Ekansh used A.I. approaches to understand the physiology of blood glucose variation in mice to combat obesity.

FUN FACTS: One of many service projects Ekansh has conducted for environmental causes, Ekansh’s Eagle Scout project involved rebuilding a local elementary school’s community garden and supporting outdoor lessons on the environment and climate change.

Illustration of 2024 STS finalist Ekansh Mittal by Amy Wike