This Teenager Developed a Pancreatic Diagnostic Strip
At the age of fifteen, Jack Andraka invented a tool that detects ovarian, lung, and pancreatic cancer. The latter had claimed the life of a close family friend and sparked his interest in the disease. He started doing research and learned that the test being used to diagnose the disease was 60 years old and inaccurate much of the time. Many patients don't learn they have the disease until symptoms appear and the survival rate at that point is only 2%.
Jack was able to find a site online that showed the 8,000 proteins associated with pancreatic cancer and, on his 4,000th try, he found one that is found in the blood stream when the patient is in the early stages of the disease. He needed a professional lab to confirm his findings, so he (naturally) compiled a material list, timeline, developed a budget. He then sent this off to 200 different researchers. It was the 199th, at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine that gave him a positive response.
A Maryland high school sophomore at the time, his research resulted in a new type of diagnostic test using a paper sensor (like the diabetic test strip). This otherwise unassuming paper strip is over 90% accurate in detecting the presence of a biomarker, revealing whether a patient has early stage pancreatic cancer. This new discovery is 168 times faster, and 400 times more sensitive than the method previously used. The test takes just five minutes to run and costs just three cents. Having this common and often lethal cancer detected at a treatable, early stage will give patients a much better chance of surviving the disease.
Andraka now holds the international patent on the device he created using strips of filter paper, a small dipstick probe, and a very basic instrument, which measures electrical resistance. (He originally purchased the common materials at a local hardware store.)
This year Jack won the Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge, in addition to a place on Advocate Magazine's: 2014 Forty Under Forty list, and a national Jefferson Award. He was also the 2014 state of Maryland winner of the Stockholm Water Prize. In 2012, he was the winner of Smithsonian American Ingenuity Youth Award and the 2012 Gordon Moore Award with a grand prize of $75,000.
Andraka will be attending Stanford University in the Fall of 2015.
Have written online for more than eight years now on many subjects. Also write under the username of Eve Sherrill York.