Inspired by a family tragedy, 15-year-old Jack Andraka invented a new way of detecting pancreatic cancer.
“I got into this work because my uncle died of pancreatic cancer,” says Andraka of Crownsville, Maryland. “I got interested in early diagnosis and focused on pancreatic cancer due to its extremely low survival rates. It’s really crucial to detect these diseases in their early stages when survival rates are their highest.”
The high school freshman’s innovative technology—a non-invasive paper sensor that detects whether someone has pancreatic cancer—earned him the Gordon E. Moore Award, the top prize at the 2012 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF). The sensor can also be used to detect other types of cancer and infectious diseases.
The simple dipstick sensor is more than 90% accurate in detecting blood and urine levels of mesothelin, a pancreatic cancer biomarker. It costs three cents to make and five minutes to run, making it much less expensive and much faster than existing tests. Andraka has a patent pending and has been approached by two major companies that are interested in bringing his sensor to market. He is also considering starting his own company.
Jack Andraka receives the Gordon E. Moore Award >
"The most amazing part of the Intel ISEF was that I got to meet with students from different nations and learn about their culture and their scientific research. It’s just amazing what Intel has done in terms of getting all of us to do these incredible science projects."
-- Jack Andraka