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Friday, July 20, 2012

Nobody Else Made That Happen

He didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. True, Jack Andraka probably did have a good teacher but he didn't have grant money from the Center for Disease Control, HHS or the American Cancer Society. At age fifteen Andraka has developed a test for pancreatic cancer that is that is 90% more accurate, 400 times more sensitive, and 26,000 times less expensive than existing methods. He does now have $75,000 for winning first place in Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. As Forbes reports;
Andraka’s diagnostic breakthrough is a humble piece of filter paper, except that it is dipped in a solution of carbon nanotubes, which are hollow cylinders with walls the thickness of a single atom, coated with a specific antibody designed to bind with the virus or protein you’re looking for. Andraka’s key insight is that there are noticeable changes in the electrical conductivity of the nanotubes when the distances between them changes. When the antibodies on the surface of the nanotubes come in contact with a target protein, the proteins bind to the tubes and spread them apart a tiny bit. That shift in the spaces between tubes can be detected by an electrical meter. Andraka used a $50 meter from the Home Depot to do the trick but, he says, doctors can just as easily insert his test-strips into the kinds of devices used by millions of diabetics around the world.

His test cost 3 cents and takes all of 5 minutes to administer. We should keep a eye on this young man to make sure he always pays his fair share.

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