At 15 years old, Maryland student Jack Andraka has developed a new early-detection test for pancreatic cancer that is faster, cheaper, and more sensitive than anything being used in the clinic today, reports The Wall Street Journal. Working with researchers at Johns Hopkins, Andraka developed a paper sensor test for the protein mesothelin, which is overexpressed in several human tumors, including lung cancer, ovarian cancer, and pancreatic cancer. In a video interview with The Wall Street Journal, Andraka discusses his invention, for which he won top prize — the Gordon E. Moore Award — at the Intel International Science and Engineering competition. "I created a novel paper sensor for the detection of pancreatic cancer, and ovarian cancer, and lung cancer, and it only costs 3 cents, and takes five minutes to run," Andraka says. "And compared to the current gold standard of protein detection called ELISA, it's 168 times faster, over 26,000 times less expensive, and over 400 times more sensitive." The test is also about 90 percent accurate. The sensor could be used as a routine blood or urine test, and a positive result would prompt more detailed testing with imaging or biopsy, he adds.
In total, Andraka won $100,000, which he says he wants to put towards college, medical school, and his dream of becoming a pathologist. He has a patent pending on his paper sensor, and has been approached by Bio-Rad for further development of the test.