Macinley Butson won first place at the INTEL International Science and Engineering Fair for her SMART Armor. She is currently working on getting her invention into clinical settings for use within one year.
Radiation therapy has numerous side effects that vary based on the type of treatment and also the area which is affected by states Mayo Clinic. Some of the most common side effects that a patient experiences are swelling of breasts, changes in skin sensation, and fatigue among others. When Macinley Butson, a teen from Wollongong, New South Wales learned about these additional effects that a cancer patient had to experience, she was determined to find a solution. At the age of 16, she was inspired to create a device that would effectively protect women undergoing breast cancer treatments from excess radiation, reports Good News Network.
Butson was always been fascinated by science, more so because her father and brother worked in the field of medical physics. However, it wasn't until her father shared his experience with ineffective cancer treatments in his own line of work, that Butson actually began researching the harmful side effects of radiation therapy. She had already lost a family relative to breast cancer and this played a huge role in inspiring the teen to conduct her own studies on the subject.
Initially, she began this medical research by looking through scientific journals but the academic jargon turned out to be difficult to understand. So, she turned to YouTube to look for videos that provided tips on how to go about these scientific journals. She was deeply immersed in her research when she stumbled upon an important piece of information. Butson learned how copper had been significantly more effective at protecting the skin from radiation as compared to lead. She had her 'A-ha' moment during a 10th-grade history class where a film on medieval wars was being viewed. Once she observed the scaley pattern on the armor of the characters, Butson thought about using it to create her special wearable protective shield.
Now with the material and pattern decided, she headed back to YouTube to learn the process of weaving tiny copper scales. Employing high-density copper plating, she created her own flexible scale-mail which is now called the SMART Armor: Scale Mail for Radiation Therapy. After her creation was tested in a laboratory setting, the armor turned out to reduce the surface exposure to excess radiation by 75 percent. "It is able to shield the contralateral breast (the breast not being treated) from excess radiation, which is delivered as a side effect, by up to 75%. This would majorly improve outcomes for patients, boosting their psychology moral as they wear a ‘battle armour’ to help them through treatment," read the website.
Her invention won first place at the INTEL International Science and Engineering Fair, making Butson the first Australian in 68 years to do so. The SMART Armor that was created as an experiment was potentially a game-changer in the field of medicine. Butson is currently working on getting her invention into clinical settings for use within one year.