Inexpensive Technique to Diagnose Pancreatic Cancer

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Young Wonder

A fifteen year old high school student from US named Jack Andraka has developed the first test in the world that can effectively detect pancreatic cancer before it sets in as a threat.

Jack was motivated to find a way to diagnose pancreatic cancer after he lost his uncle to the deadly disease. For this purpose he designed a dipstick paper sensor that detects the level of a protein called mesothelin in the urine or blood which is an indicator for pancreatic cancer. The dipstick is similar to a pregnancy strip that makes it very simple to use. The idea for this dipstick struck him in a biology class when he was secretly studying a paper on analytical methods using the 21st century technology of carbon nanotubes. Once Jack had the idea, he applied to 200 laboratories that were working on pancreatic cancer and immediately received 199 rejections. He was, however, helped in his endeavour by Professor Anirban Maitra from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

The test is 168 times faster and more accurate, 26,000 times less expensive and 400 times more sensitive than the current standards of detection. The test costs 3 cents, takes five minutes and has a 90 percent accuracy rate whereas the standard technique costs $800, misses 30 percent of all pancreatic cancers and is a 60 year old technology.


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