Jump to content


This 15-Year-Old Kid May Have Just Saved Your Life

pancreatic cancer detection sensor for early detection

  • Please log in to reply
5 replies to this topic

#1 szo



  • 612 posts
  • Joined: 04-May 03
  • Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Posted 29 December 2012 - 04:10

Of all the things that happened this year, one of the most important innovations is one you probably didn't know about. A fifteen-year-old boy named Jack Andraka has developed a cheap, easy and highly accurate paper sensor for the early detection of pancreatic cancer, and in May, he won the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in the medical and health sciences category, earning a $75,000 prize.
If you live in America, chances are you've lost at least one relative or friend to the disease, because it's one of the most common (and most lethal) forms of cancer. (I lost my dad to pancreatic cancer a few years ago.)

Jack explains:

So, what I did; is create this paper sensor and it basically has single wall carbon nanotubes which are atom thick tubes of carbon mixed with anti-bodies to this one cancer bio-marker called mesothelin. An anti-body is basically a molecule that binds specifically to one other molecule. So, what happens is; when I compared it, to the current gold standard of protein detection called called ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay), it was actually 168 times faster, over 26,000 times less expensive and over 400 times more sensitive. And what I found is that my sensor in a blind study it actually had a 100% correct diagnosis, in diagnosing pancreatic cancer and could diagnose the cancer before it actually became invasive.

I did not expect for it to be this good at detecting pancreatic cancer, anti-bodies and stuff so – I was blow away by how sensitive it was.
I actually got into this kind of work because my uncle he died due to pancreatic cancer it metastasized and I got interested in early diagnosis and I found the blood tests where the only practical way to detect it in routine screening, so then I got interested in mesothelin and actually loved single wall carbon nanotubes, they are the superheros of material science and so then I was just thinking how I could apply them here and it came to me one day in biology class. I am incredibly excited, it’s like the Olympics of science fair, it’s amazing to be here, even if I don’t get a prize.

He's patented the method himself, and hopefully won't allow Big Pharma to jack up the prices so high that people can't afford the test. What a remarkable young man, and what a great thing this is.

UPDATE: I wanted to add this bit from Wikipedia:

Andraka's older brother, Luke, a junior at North County High, won $96,000 in prizes at the Intel ISEF two years ago, with a project that examined how acid mine drainage affected the environment. Last year Luke won an MIT THINK Award (Technology for Humanity guided by Innovation, Networking, and Knowledge), which recognizes students whose science projects benefit their communities.
The boys' father, Steve Andraka, is a civil engineer. Their mother, Jane Andraka, is an anesthetist. She told the Sun "... we're not a super-athletic family. We don't go to much football or baseball.
"Instead we have a million [science] magazines [and] sit around the table and talk about how people came up with their ideas and what we would do differently.


#2 linsook


    Neowinian Senior

  • 3,685 posts
  • Joined: 20-August 01

Posted 29 December 2012 - 04:18


in the youtube video i don't know why but when he was on stage with his mouth wide open, i thought of psy.


#3 Growled


    Neowinian Senior

  • 41,508 posts
  • Joined: 17-December 08
  • Location: USA

Posted 29 December 2012 - 04:22


I am incredibly excited, it’s like the Olympics of science fair, it’s amazing to be here, even if I don’t get a prize.

Sounds like a great kid. I hope this is only the beginning for him.

#4 DocM


    Neowinian Senior

  • 21,455 posts
  • Joined: 31-July 10
  • Location: Michigan

Posted 29 December 2012 - 12:18

Can you say straight lines to a full-shot scholarship & a PhD?


#5 Simon-


    Neowinian Senior

  • 10,724 posts
  • Joined: 04-November 02
  • Location: Australia

Posted 29 December 2012 - 13:19

I wish I had super smart powers in my family. Can they invent a way to make everyone else as smart as them too?

#6 Arceles


    Time Craymel

  • 2,104 posts
  • Joined: 28-November 09
  • Location: 4th dimmension.
  • OS: Win 7 Ultimate / Win 8.1 Pro (With Start Menu Start8, otherwise is UNUSABLE) / Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean
  • Phone: XT890 Motorola RAZRi (x86 processor)

Posted 29 December 2012 - 13:26

PhD, please give him a proper rank now.... impressive kid.