Jack Andraka, Science Protégé: On the way to Curing Cancer at 15

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By Gilda Galang | February 11, 2013 4:26 PM EST

Breakthroughs in science come and go, some with furthered research while others get thrown back in the drawing board. But it seems that Jack Andraka hit two breakthroughs in one go: a potential test for identifying cancer, and the fact that he did so as a 15-year-old student.

The name Jack Andraka has been making waves in the scientific community for being a scientist and innovator who had tapped into the identification of ovarian, lung, and pancreatic cancer, reports Forbes.

The breakthrough detection tool for pancreatic cancer

What's more amazing with Andraka's invention is that this identification test has been proven to be 168 times faster and almost 100% accurate compared to what is being done in medical communities today. In addition, the procedure is 26,000 times less expensive.

Take Part reports that Andraka's creation is akin to a dip stick test, which would examine the levels of mesothelin, a marker for pancreatic cancer. And you can do this test in the same way a test for diabetes is conductied-all at around three cents.

The accuracy factor is also something to be celebrated in Andraka's invention, since the current detection procedures for pancreatic cancer has never really been as effective, especially in the early stages.

Taking inspiration from family and friends

One of the reasons why Andraka became interested in studying pancreatic cancer was due to the death of a close family friend, an uncle

"After researching about it, I discovered that 100 people die of pancreatic cancer every day and that although early detection is key to improved survival, there are no inexpensive, rapid, and sensitive tests," said Andraka to Forbes. "I figured there had to be a better way."

Still a high school sophomore at North County High School, Andraka already won the youth achievement Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award, reports the Smithsonian magazine.

He was also awarded Intel's Gordon E. Moore Award, which recognizes the best among the best of students around the world who have been part of the Intel ISEF.

Towards the future

Nowadays, he still enjoys school, where he has become a celebrity for winning the $75,000 grand prize at Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. And his revolutionary detection tool for pancreatic cancer still sits at Johns Hopkins University.

But the every inquisitive teenager has not stopped with his inventions. He doesn't see himself as an all-important genius, and even admits that his next project's not coming as easily-"Professors still reject me from their labs saying that I don't know enough, perhaps not even reading my proposal but just seeing 'high school student' on the proposal," he says to Forbes-but this doesn't stop him from continuing his pursuit of science.

Or from doing his homework.

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