Sophie Gao - Society for Science Skip to content

Sophie Gao

Hunter College High School
New York, NY

Uncovering Mechanisms of Action and Resistance for KRAS G12D Inhibitor MRTX1133 Using Drosophila melanogaster Models

Sophie Gao found potential mechanisms for a novel protein inhibitors to combat a tumor-causing cell protein mutation that has long been thought to be “undruggable” and is found in some of the world’s deadliest cancers. She also believes she has established the fruit fly model as a viable way to test novel protein inhibitors. Her research could potentially lead to new treatment approaches for some of the deadliest cancers.

View Poster

Sophie Gao, 17, of New York, studied a protein blocker’s ability to combat a tumor-causing cell protein that exists in some of the deadliest cancers for her Regeneron Science Talent Search medicine and health project. Long thought to be “undruggable,” the KRAS G12D protein is found in 4.2% of all cancer cases in a major cancer database, including one of the most deadly, pancreatic cancer. Modeling for the KRAS protein in fruit flies, whose cell communication methods are similar to humans, Sophie found that higher dosages of the protein blocker MRTX1133 led to higher survival.

Considering that drug resistance often develops when used alone, she also found the potential to mix MRTX1133 with other drugs. Sophie believes this is the first time fruit flies have been used as a model for this type of therapy, and that this may be a cost effective way to possibly identify new treatments for KRAS protein related cancers.

2024 Science Talent Search finalist Sophie Gao
Society for Science/Chris Ayers Photography

Sophie attends Hunter College High School where she is editor-in-chief of the school newspaper and co-runs a program teaching science to elementary students. The daughter of Qing Liu and Dingcheng Gao, Sophie wants to go into medicine and write about science for general audiences.

2024 Science Talent Search finalist Sophie Gao

Beyond the Project

As editor-in-chief of her school’s newspaper, Sophie launched staff-wide mentorship initiatives and is establishing an advisory program for the elementary school newspaper.

FUN FACTS: Sophie is a fan of Peaky Blinders, and as someone who enjoys learning everything about her passions, she is now keen to share obscure facts she researched about 1920s horse-race gambling.

Illustration of 2024 STS finalist Sophie Gao by Amy Wike
Illustration by Amy Wike, 2024