Skip to main content

Kids' Play


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.

The Scan

Pfizer-BioNTech Seek Full Vaccine Approval

According to the New York Times, Pfizer and BioNTech are seeking full US Food and Drug Administration approval for their SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.

Viral Integration Study Critiqued

Science writes that a paper reporting that SARS-CoV-2 can occasionally integrate into the host genome is drawing criticism.

Giraffe Species Debate

The Scientist reports that a new analysis aiming to end the discussion of how many giraffe species there are has only continued it.

Science Papers Examine Factors Shaping SARS-CoV-2 Spread, Give Insight Into Bacterial Evolution

In Science this week: genomic analysis points to role of human behavior in SARS-CoV-2 spread, and more.