While many high-school sophomores are busy partying and socializing, Jack Andraka developed a test for pancreatic cancer that is the first test that detects the disease and tumors before they get out of hand.
And with pancreatic cancer having the lowest survival rate of any cancer, he truly accomplished something amazing with his work.
Pancreatic cancer shows no symptoms in the early stages and affects more than 8,000 people each year in the Uk and 45,000 in the U.S. Due to poor testing procedures in the past, by the time the cancer is detected, 4 out of 5 people are inoperable.
After Andraka’s uncle passed away from pancreatic cancer, he began working on his research, which was rejected by 197 leading researchers. Anirban Maitra, a professor of pathology and oncology at John Hopkins University School of Medicine finally accepted and together, they created a dip-stick that could test the biomarker of pancreatic cancer, a protein known as mesothelin in blood or urine.
Not only is his test 168 times faster than the existing method, but it is also more sensitive and much cheaper than the alternative. And experts on the disease believe that his dipstick could become the leading test for pancreatic cancer, however, it will have more rigorous testing to endure first.
When speaking about Andraka, Professor Maitra said, “He is what you would call a genius. He is full of ideas. I think this kid is going to come up with something quite extraordinary in the years to come.”
For now, he awaits the patent on his discovery and continues to work on it. “Everyone has the potential to be a scientist,” Andraka said.“They just have to find a passion and work for it.”