Q&A with Ty Wilson

Ty Wilson is a 16-year-old kid from Nacogdoches, Texas, who represented the Woden ISD in the public speaking contest at the State Fair of Texas®. Ty is passionate about studying medical research that uses animals to test treatments that can later be used for humans.

What are you talking about in your speech today Ty?
I’m talking about comparative oncology, which is where they, like with dogs that have Lymphoma, Osteosarcoma and Mass Cell Tumors which are the three most common types of cancer in dogs, and they take them and study their cancers. After that, they study them, they can take a human with the same type of cancer, and apply the same treatment that they applied to that dog, to that human. Now, to choose the treatment, it depends on how well it worked on the dogs. Since dogs age much more rapidly than humans do, they can figure out how well the treatment is going to work in a much shorter period of time.

What have you done to research this?
I talked to Heather Wilson, who is over the comparative oncology department at Texas A&M. They have one of the only two facilities like that; that test and treat dogs in that much detail, in the entire world. We’re really fortunate to have a facility like that within just a few hours from our home.

What made you get interested in all of this?
Well, I’ve always been interested in how we can use animals as tools to not only help but save and prolong the lives of humans.

For about four years, I spoke on xenotransplantation, which is where they take organs out of pigs, cows, or horses and put them into humans for transplants.

A few years back, my grandma found a dog on “bookface,” known to most others as Facebook, and said; we had to go get it. We thought it was going to be this itty-bitty dog, but we needed a horse trailer to pick it up. It was a Great Pyrenees. So I started to do some research on the breed, and found there’s this dog named Rowdy, and he was getting treated for bone cancer. Based on the treatments he had, he was able to live for another three years, compared to the 6 weeks he was supposed to live. I’m interested in how one dog can save thousands of people.

Have there been any improvements in treatment results?
When I did talk to Heather Wilson, she told me they were on the break of discovering a cure for Lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin’s. That was this morning, and I was just dumbfounded when she said it. One of our close family friends just died last year of Non-Hodgkin’s and my great-grandmother died of Non-Hodgkin’s so that’s what really amazed me this morning, and has inspired me to keep researching it.

Was that recent?
She died in 2002. Then my friend just died, and my uncle just got diagnosed with it a few weeks ago; so right now, he is doing 37 treatments of chemo. They’re praying that it will take him into remission; and it looks like there is a good chance for that to happen, it’s at about 90%. It’s in his throat, so they had to put a feeding tube in.

What do you hope to gain from being a part of this competition?
I want to educate as many people as I can on this topic, and how anything can help because A&M allows normal people, like my school donated, and you can donate to this particular study, so it can keep growing. I also hope to get a little money for college. I want to go to Baylor and major in psychology.

Ty wound up getting 2nd in his division, and 2nd overall in the public speaking competition. Thank you to all who study important topics like this, that could one day, save peoples lives.

About Jason Hays

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