Never Say America Is Finished
It’s still the land of amazing possibilities.
Where else, I wonder, could a 15 year old kid come up with a successful $3 screening test for deadly pancreatic cancer and get it patented? Because that’s what happened….
Jack Andraka, a pupil at a Maryland high school student, came up with a quick basic dip-stick sensor test, using simple diabetic test paper and a $50 meter from Home Depot. He focused specifically on early-stage pancreatic cancer after losing an uncle to the disease.
Pancreatic cancer is so deadly because it’s hard to diagnose until it’s too late. The median (like average) survival time following is only five months from diagnosis. Only 4% of patients make it past the five-year mark, once diagnosed. Chemo, radiation and surgery are ineffective, basically.
A few holistic practitioners, like Nick Gonzalez with his Beard enzyme therapy, claim far better than average survival rates, but the fact remains that pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly because it is so difficult to diagnose early enough to be treatable.
Patients would typically show up after months of “minor” symptoms that the patient tries to ignore, like weight loss, abdominal pain, and chronic itching. Only after months of feeling unwell does the patient finally report for an exam. Jaundice is often the symptom that first alarms the patient.
If the doctor recognizes the symptoms as possible pancreatic cancer, an imaging test is usually needed to confirm the diagnosis. X-rays are no help and these days we do a CT scan, an MRI, or an ultrasound.
If the imaging test shows a mass on the pancreas, most doctors order a biopsy. When the mass is confirmed as pancreatic cancer, it’s way too late.
Andraka’s test changes all that. It’s 168 times faster, 400 times more sensitive, and 100 times more selective than the closest conventional tests being used.
At around $3 it’s also 26,000 times less expensive — and it doesn’t seem to give false positives or false negatives!
In a single-blinded study of 100 patient samples, Andraka’s test gave a 100 percent correct diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.
The science is sophisticated and requires nanotube “cylinders” coated with a specific antibody designed to attach to the protein or virus you’re testing for. In this case, they bind to a protein that’s associated with pancreatic cancer cells.
A simple electrical meter tells the technician whether there’s been a shift in the space between the nanotubes, which only happens when the targeted protein or virus comes into contact with the antibodies on the surface of the nanotubes.
For his efforts, Jack Andraka won the $75,000 Gordon E. Moore award at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.
Obviously, the dollars and suits want his invention (which he’s in the process of patenting). He’ll have to hope the unscrupulous cancer mafia don’t invest the millions of dollars to somehow break his patent. Granting the license of a major laboratory that can fight back is probably the only way to prevent that.
He’ll get very rich and he deserves it.
Oh, and already Andraka is saying his test can be used for early diagnosis of lung and ovarian cancer as well — two more diseases where early diagnosis plays a major role in survival rates.
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