Jack Andraka is an inventor, scientist and cancer researcher. He is the recipient of many awards for his revolutionary work in developing a rapid and inexpensive method to detect early stage pancreatic, ovarian, and lung cancer. Did I mention he was 15 when he created it. He has been honored at the white house, featured on 60min, and speaks all over the world.
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What will you learn in this interview?
-How at age 15 Jack came up with an inexpensive method to detect early stage pancreatic, ovarian, and lung cancer?
-What were some of the roadblocks Jack overcame to continue his groundbreaking research?
-How many rejections did he get before he got into a lab?
-What were some of the problems he had before inventing His test is 168 times faster, 400 times more sensitive and 26,000 times less expensive than the medical standard?
Jack’s mom was on the FBI watch list because of Jack’s purchases on Amazon.
Jack is a member of the National Junior Wildwater Kayak team, a Life Scout and has won numerous awards in national and international math competitions.
Business Mentors, Tools, Books mentioned:
Dr. Anirban Maitra, Professor of Pathology, Oncology and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Gordon E. Moore Award
Smithsonian American Ingenuity Youth Award
A little background about Jack:
Jack Andraka was 15 when he invented an inexpensive and sensitive dipstick-like sensor for the rapid and early detection of pancreatic, ovarian and lung cancers. After a close family friend died of pancreatic cancer, Jack (then a ninth grader) became interested in finding a better early-detection diagnostic test. He learned that the lack of a rapid, low-cost early screening method contributed to the poor survival rate among individuals with pancreatic cancer. After thinking further about the problem, he came up with a plan and a budget to put his ideas in motion.
He contacted about 200 research professionals at Johns Hopkins University and the National Institutes of Health about his plan. He got 199 rejection letters and then finally got an acceptance from Dr. Anirban Maitra, Professor of Pathology, Oncology and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, who became his mentor. It was at Dr. Maitra’s lab where Jack developed his test.
The diagnostic method he developed is more than 90 percent accurate in detecting the presence of pancreatic cancer’s biomarker protein called mesothelin, and earned him the grand prize $75,000 Gordon E. Moore Award – named for Intel’s co-founder – after competing with 1,500 other young scientists from 70 countries. He also won other prizes in smaller individual categories for a total award of $100,500, which he will use towards college. He has formed a company and has applied for both national and international patents.
Since then Jack has won the Smithsonian American Ingenuity Youth Award and has spoken at the Clinton Global Initiative, FutureMed,Chicago Ideas Week, Singularity U, TEDx MidAtlantic, TEDx Redmond, TEDx Orange Coast, TED New York Talent Search, TED Salon London and soon at TED @Long Beach . He has been featured in several documentaries including Morgan Spurlock’s Sundance Film Festival entry “ You don’t know Jack”, Linda Peters’ award winning film “Just Jack” as well on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, CNN, BBC, Fox, Rede Record de Televisão and many radio, newspaper and magazine articles around the world.
Some of the technical aspects of Jack’s research:
Andraka cultured MIA PaCa cells, from a commercial pancreatic carcinoma cell line, which overexpress mesothelin, a biomarker for pancreatic cancer. The mesothelin was isolated, concentrated and quantified with ELISA. After optimization with the Western Blot assay, the human mesothelin-specificantibodies were mixed with single-walled carbon nanotubes and used to coat strips of ordinary filter paper. This made the paper conductive. The optimal layering was determined using a scanning electron microscope. Cell media spiked with varying amounts of mesothelin were then tested against the paper biosensor and any change in the electrical potential of the sensor strip (due to the changing conductivity of the nanotubes) was measured, before and after each application. Specifically, what happened was this:
The antibodies would bind to the mesothelin and enlarge. These beefed-up molecules would spread the nanotubes farther apart, changing the electrical properties of the network: The more mesothelin present, the more antibodies would bind and grow big, and the weaker the electrical signal would become.
A dose-response curve was constructed with an R2 value of .9992. Mr. Andraka claimed that his tests on human blood serum obtained from both healthy people and patients with chronic pancreatitis, pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (a precursor to pancreatic carcinoma), or pancreatic cancer showed a similar response. The sensor’s limit of detection sensitivity was found to be 0.156 ng/mL; 10 ng/mL is considered the level of overexpression of mesothelin consistent with pancreatic cancer. Andraka’s sensor costs $0.03 (compared to the $800 cost of a standard test (wikipedia) ) and 10 tests can be performed per strip, taking 5 minutes each. The method is 168 times faster, 1/26,667th as expensive, and 400 times more sensitive than ELISA, and 25% to 50% more accurate than the CA19-9 test. (wikipedia)
Officials at Intel have said that Andraka’s method is more than 90 percent accurate in detecting the presence of mesothelin. He has patented his method of sensing pancreatic cancer and is communicating with companies about developing an over-the-counter test. (wikipedia)
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