An Ottawa teen that completed cutting-edge research on a cancer-fighting drug has placed fifth out of 13 students in a national science competition.

17-year-old Romina Hassanzadeh's in-depth look into the drug echinomycin could one day have an impact on the way cancer is treated.

"Basically I was looking at how this drug works, and whether it has potential to decrease a cell's viability, so increase cell death essentially," the grade 12 student explained.

Hassanzadeh competed against 13 whiz kids across Canada in the National Biotech Science competition in Ottawa.

The theme of this year's competition was "how will you change the world?" Hassanzadeh, who attends All Saints Catholic High School, hopes her work will leave its mark on approaches to cancer treatment.

She says the research was especially meaningful to her because her mother's aunt died of breast cancer.

"Just to be able to do research on something that could have helped her at some point was very nice and rewarding," she said.

The top prize went to a grade 12 student from Waterloo, Ontario.

She invented a disease-fighting compound using tree particles.

"By linking them up with a mentor, and getting them to do research in a lab they can take research to that level," said Rick Levick, the executive director of Bioscience Education Canada.

The top two winners of the competition will represent Canada at the international contest next month in Boston.

With files from CTV's Vanessa Lee.