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Meet The 15-Year-Old Who Is Changing How We Test For Cancer

By day, Jack Andraka appears to be a normal high school student. But after school, he goes to the lab at Johns Hopkins, where he’s developing a test for pancreatic cancer that is worlds better than what’s currently available. You may have read about him before, now see him talk about his breakthrough.

No matter how precocious you were as a kid, odds are that you were not spending your spare time developing a revolutionary way to diagnose pancreatic cancer. Thank goodness, then, for 15-year-old Jack Andraka, a high school freshman who won this year’s Intel International Science and Engineering Fair with his mind-bogglingly simple (and inexpensive) test, which is 90% accurate, 400 times more sensitive, and 26,000 times less expensive than today’s methods. How did he do it? During a boring biology class, Andraka realized that he could use carbon nanotubes that react to a specific protein and … oh, just let him tell it.

To read more on Andraka, check out our piece from when he first won his prize.

This piece is part of Change Generation, our series on young, change-making entrepreneurs. Read the rest here.

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  • Cynthia

    Congratulations to him! And I love how filled with joy he was at winning! That kind of passion is just what the scientific community needs to serve mankind.

  • JEnna

    Sheila, even men 4 times his age!! Lets get this kid a high school diploma already!! Those 8 hours a day are INVALUABLE!!

  • Dahlia Pham

    Considering that pancreatic cancer has a low survival rate, anything to detect this deadly disease early is welcomed. While I agree with Sheila that the pharmaceutical companies don't want to lose out on their bottom line (think breast cancer funding), they could very well employ this new dip stick method, it'll just extend the amount of medication one needs to "treat it". After all this is not a cure, but only a way of detecting pancreatic cancer.

    If the kid had found a cure for pancreatic cancer, that would be a different ball game altogether. Any cancer cure means billions lost in revenue for pharmaceutical companies, and well, they can't have any of that now can they?

    Kudos to the kid though.

  • sickofinjustice

    This young man is phenomenal! He has done something that men twice his age with twice his amount of education have failed to do! He's a hero! The only concern I have is that he will lose control of this wonderful invention, and we'll never see it again! How many times has that happened in the past? Too numerous to recount! This test is 26,000 times less expensive than the standard test? Yeah, I have a feeling it will get lost if he hands it over to some big lab or pharmaceutical company. After all, their main concern isn't our health, but their bottom line!