Teen Whiz Develops Pancreatic Cancer Test

Pancreatic cancer test detects presence of mesothelin

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) The boy genius who can't even drive yet may have developed a test that could save thousands of lives every year. The winner of the 2012 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair has found a way to diagnose pancreatic cancer.

Jack Andraka didn't want to fool around with anything too simple...the 15-year-old took on one of the greatest challenges in cancer research today.

Andraka has developed a dip-stick test that can test blood or urine for a certain cell protein - mesothelin, which indicates the presence of pancreatic cancer.

"Sometimes a high school student can change the world."

In testing this paper sensor, Andraka found that it's better than existing screens by leaps and bounds. Not only is it 168 times faster and 400 times more sensitive than current methods, the test is 90 percent accurate.

Oh yeah, and Andraka's test is a mere 26,000 times less expensive than tests used today, which usually detects this cancer at an advanced state.

So what was Andraka's inspiration to try and solve one of medicine's greatest mysteries? A friend's brother died from pancreatic cancer.

"I became interested in early detection, did a ton of research, and came up with this idea," Andraka says. Easy enough.

Andraka believes the test will be able to detect the disease before it grows and invades beyond the pancreas, a hard-to-reach organ that's surrounded by intestines.

The teen won $75,000 for his ingenuity, all of which will go to his college fund. Hmmm. Wonder if he might not get a full-ride scholarship with that kind of brain power?

But before that happens, Andraka will begin designing clinical trials for his sensor and meet with Quest Diagnostics to hopefully get his invention to the market sometime within the next 10 years.

Don't you love stories like this?

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 29, 2012
Last Updated:
August 20, 2012