A Woodbury High School student has published his biological research paper in a science journal affiliated with Harvard University.
Sayuj Saresh, 17, discovered a better way of bonding an enzyme called catalase to calcium alginate.
The results appeared March 31 in the Journal of Emerging Investigators, a science journal run by graduate students at Harvard.
He is the lead author on the paper, which he wrote with the help of teacher Herb Struss. The journal features the work of middle and high school students.
Suresh's paper, titled "Covalently entrapping catalase into calcium alginate worm pieces using EDC carbodiimide as a crosslinker," was reviewed by a three-person panel.
"The reason why I like doing research in biochemistry is because they have a beauty that only a biochemist can see," he said. "The inspiration for my career in research is because it helps me understand the world better and also help society solve everyday problems."
Enzymes, which occur naturally in the body, are used to trigger biological reactions.
The catalase enzyme is used in the production of cheese. Milk contains hydrogen peroxide that is toxic to the bacteria that is crucial to the fermenting process. Catalase is used to break down the hydrogen peroxide into oxygen and water.
Suresh added calcium alginate, a biodegradable substance derived from seaweed.
"The use of calcium alginate is that it helps us physically handle it, since catalase is very small to see with (the) naked eye," he said in an email.
While this practice is fairly common, Suresh took a different approach. Instead of bonding it to catalase in bead form, he cut the calcium alginate into thin strips, called worm pieces.
"They're not real worms," he said, in answer to a reporter's question.
He then attached the worm pieces to the catalase by means of a crosslinker called EDC (1-ethyl-3-(3-dimethylaminopropyl)carbodiimide hydrochloride).
As a result, the catalase showed an increase in activity, he said.
"It resulted in a more efficient bond," he said.
Suresh will attend the University of Minnesota in the fall.