NASA selects Jarvis Christian College students to help with canc - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

NASA selects Jarvis Christian College students to help with cancer research

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Cody Carrasquillo, a sophomore, and Ayla Diles, a senior, have been prepping for the last seven months for what they call a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Cody Carrasquillo, a sophomore, and Ayla Diles, a senior, have been prepping for the last seven months for what they call a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
HAWKINS, TX (KLTV) -

Jarvis Christian College was awarded a $251,000 grant from NASA. Two biology major have since been chosen to research microgravity, cell biology, molecular biology and radiation in hopes of helping to protect astronauts while they're in space.

Cody Carrasquillo, a sophomore, and Ayla Diles, a senior, have been prepping for the last seven months for what they call a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

"I would've never thought I would be here, like, to do this experiment; doing an internship with NASA," Diles said.

The duo has been working with two different compounds and growing cancer cells.

"One of the compounds will help boost the immune system for astronauts whenever they go into space, and another one will help fight cancer cells while they are in space because while they are there they are exposed to radiation," Carrasquillo said.

Helping these astronauts is what it's all about for Ayla.

"I'm speechless; I never met an astronaut," Diles said. "I always wanted to meet one. So I'm happy."

The two excited biology majors were the only students selected in East Texas to be a part of the grant that will last until October 2015.

"It's very great because a lot of people haven't heard of Jarvis Christian College, so we're putting them on the map," Diles said.

Jarvis Christian College and two other universities in Texas will be working with astronauts for about a week analyzing the cell samples.

"It will basically be used in the same way chemo would be used," Carrasquillo said.

Carrasquillo says he began his research with chemotherapy five years ago when his father was diagnosed with cancer. This research has become more than just a school project for him as his father battles stage four of the deadly illness.

"I think that this could potentially help in the fight for cancer," Carrasquillo said. "It's kind of cool gaining a lot of knowledge because I know what my dad's going through or I know what cancer is at least."

The two students will be heading to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida in March to test out the cancer cells they have been growing. The research project will last another three years for NASA.

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