North County freshman Jack Andraka earned the grand prize at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for creating a test that can detect early stage pancreatic cancer with 90 percent accuracy and at a cheaper rate than other tests.
“It detects an abnormal protein that you find in the blood when you have a pancreatic cancer,” said Dr. Anirban Maitra, professor of Pathology, Oncology and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine to CBS affiliate WJZ-13. “He conceived this idea and I think the fact that he is 15 makes this whole story more remarkable.”
An estimated 44, 000 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year; of those patients, 94 percent will die within five years of diagnosis and 74 percent will die within the first year. It is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States.
“I got interested in early detection because that’s the best chance of treating cancer,” Andraka said. “The only practical way of doing this is through routine blood tests so that’s what I’ve developed here.”