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High school student develops mechanism for detecting pancreatic cancer

Jack Andraka

A high school freshman has been making tons of headlines this week for developing a new method for detecting one of the deadliest forms of cancer.

Fifteen-year-old Jack Andraka of Crownsville, Maryland spent the past year developing and testing a procedure that can detect pancreatic cancer in the earliest stages. His science project earned him the grand prize and a $75,000 college scholarship at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, beating out over 1,500 young scientists from approximately 70 countries.

Jack’s patent-pending sensor has more than 90 percent accuracy. Not only is it far less expensive than current tests, it is also 28 times faster and over 100 times more sensitive.

“It detects an abnormal protein that you find in the blood when you have a pancreatic cancer,” said Dr. Anirban Maitra, professor of Pathology, Oncology and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. “He conceived this idea and I think the fact that he is 15 makes this whole story more remarkable.”

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. It is the most difficult cancer to diagnose and by the time a patient learns they have the disease, it’s usually too late.

Check out Jack’s interview below: