Cancer is such disease whose cure is done when it is detected at initial levels. But the major problem with the diseases is this only mostly it is not able to be diagnosed at correct stage and many people lose their precious life due to it.
A 15 year old ambitious and soft hearted child, Jack Andraka also faced a similar problem. He lost his uncle who was a close friend of the family, due to pancreatic cancer. Jack then decided to find a better solution for the diagnostic issue. He received Gordon E. Moore Award in year 2012, the grand prize of the Intel International Science and Engineering fair for his discovery in developing a new, fast, and cheap method to detect the presence of pancreatic, ovarian, and lung cancer during early stages. For this discovery Andraka got $75000. He even got 4th place in Chemistry in year 2013 at Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for making a fresh Raman spectrometer with real world applications.
He analyzed the fact that most of the people are not able to undergo proper diagnostic of cancer at correct time and even the test are expensive with least accuracy. He then decided to find out a cheap, accurate and fast method to help the mankind. With this mind set he contacted 200 professors at JHU (John Hopkins University) and the National Institutes of Health with a detailed study, analysis, plan, budget and time about his project to get help from laboratory. He got almost 199 rejections before he got his first positive reply from Dr. Anirban Maitra, Professor of Pathology, Oncology, and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
Any other teenager would have given up the hope after so many rejections but Jack was firmly determined to achieve his target. Maitra was impressed by the worth-praising work of 30 page specific protocol covering analysis of reagents and pitfalls and everything. He started working over the project after the school hours. He learned about the famous biomarker named MESOTHELIN. From January 2012 he started getting positive results. He discovered that mesothelin, a protein in the blood that’s over expressed in patients with several types of cancer, including pancreatic cancer, even in the earliest stages. Then he emphasized on the study of carbon nanotubes which are 1/50,000 diameter of human hair, very tiny cylinders with highly remarkable electrical and mechanical properties.
Maitra told that they did number of patients test to study and find out that human serum have low level of mesothelin in early stage patients and it can be detected. Jack is not the first person to mix carbon nanotubes with anti-bodies. Many researchers have already designed same type of test for breast and prostate cancer. But jack used it first time to detect early stage pancreatic cancer.
The final outcome of the project was a new dipstick diagnostic test for pancreatic cancer using modern paper sensor. It was similar like a diabetic test strip. This strip tests the level of mesothelin in blood or urine to detect early stage pancreatic cancer. The results of the test are 90 % accurate, 168 times faster and 26000 times less expensive and more over 400 times more sensitive than current diagnostic test. This has made cancer detection within the reach of everyone. This gives fair chance to all the patients who cannot afford previous expensive inaccurate tests. Further the test is also effective for detecting ovarian and lung cancer.
Jack has patented his unique, fast and cheapest method of sensing cancer and he is also in conversation with companies about developing an over-the-counter-test for pancreatic cancer.