Jack Andraka, who is a high school freshman in Maryland, has won the grand prize at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair this week. Mr. Andraka, who is only 15 years old, conceived and developed a “dip-stick” type paper test that seems able to detect early stage pancreatic cancer with 90 percent accuracy. To boot, he says it is much cheaper, far more sensitive and much faster than existing tests. Sounds like a trifecta to me if it pans out for wider use.
According to Mr. Andraka and his mentor, Dr. Anirban Maitra, professor of Pathology, Oncology and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, it detects a protein called mesothelin, which is a protein that has been known to be over-expressed in cancers such as pancreatic adenocarcinoma.
Mr. Andraka won the top honour in the science fair, the Gordon E. Moore prize, named for Intel’s co-founder and former Chair and CEO. He says he wants to go on to be a pathologist. Let’s hope that he wants to be a RESEARCH pathologist – we can’t afford to lose guys like this from the lab!
Below is a video of Mr Andraka being interviewed by the the Wall Street Journal.