Nat Harris

WATCH: Cancer Scientist Explains His Research Through Rap

This is really impressive.

FIONA MACDONALD
12 MAR 2015
 

Scientific songs can sometimes get a little cringe-worthy, but the above breakdown of complex cancer research by rapper-slash-PhD student Nathaniel Harris from the University of Wollongong in Australia is actually incredible.

 

For starters, he can really rap, which is a rare skill in itself, but more impressively, he does a great job of explaining the science of his research for a general audience. And then getting it stuck in your head for the rest of the day.

Harris is working on a new drug that will improve chemotherapy treatments and survival rates of cancer patients at the University of Wollongong's Illawarra Health & Medical Research Institute, and he created the video above for the 2014 Fresh Science competition.

This drug belongs to a new class of ‘prodrugs’, which hunt for and destroy cancer cells specifically, without harming healthy cells. They do this by binding to receptors that are only present on cancer cells.

“Current chemotherapy targets all fast dividing cells. This is why people can lose their hair and get very nauseous, because the drugs attack fast-growing hair and gut cells as well as cancer cells,” Harris explained in a press release

“We are working on a new method of actively delivering a large amount of our prodrug through a different pathway into the cancer cell. We hope that this will be able to demonstrate, for the first time, an increase in therapeutic effectiveness and a decrease in toxicity associated with chemotherapy treatment of cancers.” 

His team is already testing the drug's ability to target breast and pancreatic cancers in a novel 3D model, but the team believes that it could also kill ovarian, prostate, head and neck and oesophageal and skin cancer cells. Harris has now entered the Thinkable OpenInnovation Award with a brand new rap, which you can watch below, in the hopes of gaining funding to better target melanoma, a type of skin cancer that 30 Australians are diagnosed with every day.

Of course, there's a lot more going on behind the scenes than this. Watch the videos above to find out more about Harris's research, because, honestly, he does a better job of explaining it than we do. And, for him, music is the key to doing that, he explained in the release.

“Rap can get into the social consciousness of people so it’s a good way to express your ideas and emotions or even science to people," he says. Yep, move over Drake, we've got a new favourite rapper.

Love science? Find out more about studying at the University of Wollongong.

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