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15-Year-Old Develops Early Detection Test for Pancreatic Cancer


Kids today … are actually doing some amazing stuff. Take 15-year-old Jack Andraka, who recently won the grand prize of the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for developing an early detection test for pancreatic cancer.

Jack Andraka 

(Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Andraka came up with the idea for the test after a close family friend died of pancreatic cancer. Using free online science papers, he formed a basis for the test, which looks for increased levels of a biomarker for pancreatic cancer in blood and urine. He contacted 197 scientists, seeking help with his research, and was rejected by each one, before Dr. Anirban Maitra at Johns Hopkins University agreed to donate lab space and help him develop his research.

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Andraka tells the Daily Mail:

“Essentially what I’m envisioning here is that this could be on your shelf at your Walgreens, your Kmart. Let’s say you suspect you have a condition … you buy the test for that. And you can see immediately if you have it. Instead of your doctor being the doctor, you’re the doctor.”

The test is 90 percent accurate, more than 100 times faster and significantly more sensitive than current testing technology, and costs 3 cents per dipstick tester. Andraka won upwards of $100,000 in prize money from Intel.

Andraka has taken out a patent on his test and is talking to companies about mass marketing it. Not bad for an idea he came up with when he was “chilling out in biology class.”

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Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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