Teen crafts tool for early cancer detection

2013-02-28 16:17

(Anne-Christine Poujoulat, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Long Beach, California – Jack Andraka catapulted from being a typical US teenager unaware of the pancreas to one with a cheap way to detect cancer in the organ before it turns deadly.

"Through the internet, anything is possible," Andraka said while telling the story of his screening breakthrough at a prestigious TED Conference in Southern California on Wednesday.

"There is so much more to it than posting duck-face pictures of yourself online," he continued, sucking in his cheeks and pushing out his lips to playfully underscore his point.

"If a 15-year-old who didn't know what a pancreas was could figure out a way to detect pancreatic cancer, imagine what you could do."

Andraka, who turned 16 in January, recounted how three years ago he began scouring the internet for information about pancreatic cancer after it killed a cherished family friend.

He told of being shocked to learn that the cancer was typically found too late to save people. On top of that, the test used to screen for the illness was 60 years old, he said.

"That is older than my dad," Andraka quipped. "More important, it is expensive, inaccurate, and your doctor would have to be ridiculously suspicious that you had the cancer to give you this test."

He figured what was needed was a test that was inexpensive, fast, simple and sensitive.

"Undeterred due to my teenage optimism, I went online to a teenager's two best friends: Google and Wikipedia," Andraka said.

What he found was there were thousands of proteins that could be detected in the blood of people with pancreatic cancer, and he hunted for one that could serve as an early flag for the illness.

"Finally, on the 4 000th try when I was losing my sanity, I found the protein," Andraka said.

The revelation came in what he described as an unlikely place, a high school biology class he referred to as an "absolute stifler of innovation."

"I was sneakily reading this nanotubes article under my desk while we were supposed to be paying attention to antibodies," Andraka recalled.

"Suddenly it hit me that I could combine what I was reading with what I was supposed to be thinking about."

He described a recipe for making paper sensors to detect the protein mesothelin in blood that is "about as simple as making chocolate chip cookies, which I love."

The test costs three cents, takes minutes, and appears to be 100% accurate, according to his TED Talk.

Andraka said he sent out 200 requests to scientists for lab space to continue his work, only to be rejected by all but Johns Hopkins University where he was fiercely grilled before being taken in.

He commenced to fix holes he discovered in his "once brilliant procedure" and went on to be awarded the 2012 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair grand prize.

Andraka described his approach as having the potential to be tailored to screen for other forms of cancer as well as heart disease or HIV/AIDS.

He said he is currently working on "something the size of a cube of sugar" that could "look through your skin" and study blood or signs of almost any disease. The cost? An estimated five dollars.

Read more on:    health  |  research
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
23 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Africa
 

Hottie of the day: Charlotte

Meet our hottie of the day, Charlotte. She feels sexiest after a good workout at the gym!

 
 

Men24.com

This is why guys shouldn’t be in photos
BMW drift battle: M235i vs. speedway bike
Want to start talking dirty?
And this year's Miss Bumbum title goes to...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

20% off ALL TV Series

Choose from 1000’s of the hottest TV Series . While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Enjoy the view because as from tomorrow you are going to need to come back down to earth and join the party. In the meantime use...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.