(Moncton, NB) September 7, 2021 – At only 14 years of age, Celine Wu is taking the world of science by storm. While most 14-year-olds spent the summer enjoying the sunshine or playing sports, New Brunswick teen, Celine Wu, chose to work with Moncton-based breath analytics company, Picomole researching scent biomarkers associated with Parkinson’s disease.
“Picomole regularly hires interns to work in our Moncton lab,” stated Picomole CEO Dr. Stephen Graham. “We recruit from universities across Canada for top talent. It never occurred to us to hire someone so young, but we were impressed by Celine’s initiative, and we took a chance.” Picomole received an email from Celine back in March inquiring about internship opportunities, and after talking with her, the team was surprised to discover she was only 14 years old. Given her age, Picomole had conversations with both her mother and her teachers, all of whom vouched for the young woman’s academic accomplishments and strong work ethic.
Picomole was already exploring opportunities to apply its breath analytics technology to neurological diseases, specifically Parkinson’s disease. Celine was tasked with researching the literature that could be used to support the detection of Parkinson’s disease using breath analytics. Celine was inspired by the story of Joy Milne, “the woman who can smell Parkinson’s disease”. Ms. Milne achieved notoriety a few years ago after an independent researcher verified that she could smell Parkinson’s disease.
In her paper, Celine highlights sebum, a waxy lipid-rich biofluid present in the body, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in the breath as possible non-invasive ways of detecting Parkinson’s disease in its early stages. Celine’s research was supervised and guided by Picomole’s Senior Business Analyst, Sam Fisher, who completed his Bachelor of Science with Honours at Mount Allison University. “I have taught and tutored dozens of university level students during my time at Mount Allison. Celine is one of the most promising students I have ever met. I strongly believe that she will make a substantial difference in the field of medicine within our lifetimes” stated Sam Fisher.
With further research planned in the near future, these findings could prove to be monumental for the early diagnosis of Parkinson’s, when treatment options are most effective. The work Celine has done this summer may help to reduce the impact of the disease and improve quality of life for patients.
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About Celine Wu – Celine is a Grade 9 student at Mathieu-Martin high school in Moncton, New Brunswick. Born in Auckland, New Zealand, Celine’s parents moved to Moncton when she was three years old. Celine is fluent in English, French and Mandarin. In her free time, she enjoys playing the piano and crocheting, all while learning a fourth language, German. As someone who is passionate about science, Celine also has high hopes to attend Harvard and pursue medicine in the future, potentially to specialize in neuroscience.
About Parkinson’s Disease – Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement. Symptoms start gradually, sometimes starting with a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand. Tremors are common, but the disorder also commonly causes stiffness or slowing of movement. Parkinson’s disease symptoms worsen as the condition progresses over time. Although Parkinson’s disease can’t be cured, medications might significantly improve symptoms.