What he has discovered is he can use a low-power UV light to attract the dendritic cell, which is an immune cell that identifies what's a foreign particle and what are your own cells, since they always move towards the light. Because the light is so low-energy, it passes through the layer of a person's skin, pulls them up towards the surface and keeps them from identifying the different cells for which to attack.
Rangwala said this would be more effective than chemotherapy, which shuts down your immune system to prevent it from attacking your cells, making you more susceptible to diseases that could be fatal.
"Compared to chemotherapy, it's more effective because it's directly targeting these cells," he said. "And it's safer because the light is really low-energy. Most people associate UV with cancer and bad sort of things but it's almost like the visible light you're exposed to right now."
The project allows Rangwala to apply just what he has learned in his high school science classes to real world situations. But his interest had begun when he was in middle school through his research paper and a middle school science fair he participated in.
"Those research projects really showed me what research can do," he said, "and the exploration of finding new things and having that be used as applications in the real world."
When Rangwala discusses the project he is working on for the competition, he can't help but stress enough that the ultimate purpose for it is to help people. It plays into the humanitarian side of him as he heads the Red Cross Club at Albany Academy and is a member of the board of directors. He volunteers with the Ronald McDonald house as well.
He also hopes to work somewhere in the medical field as possibly a physician or looking into the economics of health care and how the whole system works. But science is at the core of what he's looking to do in life.