Not many 15-year-olds can claim responsibility for saving thousands of lives, but North County High School freshman Jack Andraka can. The Crownsville, Md., teen recently won the top prize at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for his invention that will make pancreatic cancer detection, easier, cheaper and more accurate than ever before.
Andraka became interested in early detection for pancreatic cancer when a close family friend died of the disease. His test, a simple dip-stick blood and urine test, tests for an abnormal protein in the blood that is present when you have pancreatic cancer. It is reported to be 90 percent accurate, 1,000 times more sensitive, and 28 times cheaper than other tests — all while using the same methodology, improving the possibility of early detection.
Pancreatic cancer is the fourth most deadly cancer in the U.S. Almost three-quarters of patients with the disease die within the first year, generally because the disease is often not detected until it is in the late stages. Andraka's test will give doctors a more accurate and earlier diagnosis of the disease, giving patients a better chance of survival.
For his efforts, Andraka was awarded a $75,000 prize. He plans to use that money for college.