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A teenager studying ... cancer


Typing "Jack Andrak" in the popular search engine, we get several hints: "scientist", "inventor", "cancer researcher", "discoverer". Theoretically, nothing that could be of particular interest. Seemingly.

Jack Andrak is an American teenager who was born in 1997. He is 16 years old and already has an important discovery on his account. He discovered a pancreatic cancer test that is 168 times faster  400 times more sensitive and 26,000 times less expensive than standard diagnostic methods.

Pancreatic cancer is a very dangerous and high-mortality cancer. Over 85% of all pancreatic cancer cases are diagnosed too late when the patient has a less than 2% chance of survival.

And why did we start this story with an internet search engine? Because it was thanks to her that a talented teenager discovered a new method of detecting cancer. He reached the free papers available online and began to read them carefully. Then he sent several letters to scientists asking for access to the laboratory. However, he heard "you are too young", "we can't help you." He kept looking.

Finally succeeded. After almost 200 negative answers, one oncologist, Johs Hopkins, decided to give the boy a laboratory. After many weeks, he managed to develop a test that touched the entire medical community.

Why such adolescent enthusiasm? A few months before the frantic search for a solution that would help diagnose cancer effectively and quickly, Jack said goodbye to a loved one who was like an uncle to him. He heard words from the doctor that would not give him peace: "if only he could diagnose cancer earlier ...".

However, enthusiasm for learning did not begin with this event. Andraka was passionate about what surrounds him in an amazing dimension much earlier. Already at the age of three, he discovered that by throwing a piece of wood into the river, you can measure the speed of its current.

Jack Andraka for his discovery received a cash prize: $ 75,000 at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair and several smaller ones. In 2013 he was awarded in the field of chemistry. What was the phenomenon of his test?

Jack drew attention to a protein called mesothelin, which is produced by cancer cells, also at a very early level of its development. He stated that detection of the disease would be possible at an early stage if a biosensor based on an anti-mesothelin antibody was created. He deduced that carbon nanotubes would be ideal because they can generate a potential difference during the antigen-antibody conjugation reaction. The teenager concluded that a suitable test strip soaked in nanotubes and antibody could detect a cancer marker in the blood or urine.

Jack Andarak did not stop at one discovery. He conducts further research at John Hopkins University in Baltimore.

When will the world hear about him again?