News reports say that a 15 year old high school U.S student had an uncle who died of pancreatic cancer. This student has now developed a test for this disease that helps to detect the tumours even before they ripen to be ready for treatment.
Pancreatic cancer has the lowest rate of survival in cancer and has remained thus for the past 40 years. It does not show any early symptoms and is seen to affect at least 45,000 people in the U.S and 8000 people in the UK. Around four out of 100 people survive this cancerous condition.
This student Jack Andraka contacted at least 200 professors from Maryland and requested to give him time to develop his brainwave for a screening test. He had mentioned that the test would be just as simple as a pregnancy test. Out of these 200 professors, it was only one professor Anirban Maitra from John Hopkins University in Baltimore who invited him, spoke to him, and was so impressed that Jack was given space to work on his idea.
Jack produced a dipstick sensor, which helps in detecting the protein level called mesothelin in the blood or the urine. This is the bio marker for pancreatic cancer. It has a speed that is 168 times more than the present day inaccurate serum tumor markers. Costing only 5 cents, it is extremely sensitive and is a good cure in question. Jack won the Grand Jury prize at the Intel International Science and Engineering fair held last year.
This could become the world’s cheapest and best test for the disease. It needs lot of developments and further trials before it is available commercially.
As this cancer spreads, it increases a protein called mesothelin. Maitra endorses Jack’s discovery adding that a simple prick could be a major breakthrough in the treatment of this disease.
Thus, a small incident in Jack’s life could change the lives of many such cancer patients.Leave a reply