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Fast cheap test for pancreatic cancer - Input Junkie
June 21st, 2012
04:59 am

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Fast cheap test for pancreatic cancer


Jack Andraka, a 15-year old, just won the $75,000 grand prize at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in May for inventing a paper test strip that uses minute changes in conductivity to detect targeted viruses or antigens faster, cheaper and more accurately than today’s standard diagnostics.
Andraka’s paper sensor is extremely sensitive. In a single-blinded test of 100 patient samples, it spotted the presence of mesothelin, a protein commonly used as a biomarker for pancreatic cancer, at a limit of 0.156 nano grams per milliliter, well below the 10 ng/mL considered an overexpression of mesothelin consistent with pancreatic cancer. It’s also 100 times more selective than existing diagnostic tests, which means no false positives or false negatives. It ignored healthy patient samples as well as those with mere pancreatitis. Compared with the 60-year-old diagnostic technique called enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (or ELISA), used in pregnancy test strips and viral checks for HIV, West Nile and hepatitis B, Andraka’s sensor is 168 times faster, 26,667 times less expensive, and 400 times more sensitive. It can spot the presence of the cancer-linked protein well before the cancer itself becomes invasive. This could save the lives of thousands of pancreatic cancer victims each year. The sensor costs $3 (ELISA can cost up to $800) and ten tests can be performed per strip, with each test taking five minutes. It can be used also to monitor resistance to antibiotics and follow the progression of treatment of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation.

This is extraordinary news, with diagnosing pancreatic cancer only the beginning.

I've been expecting cheap fast chemical tests for a while, but I was thinking in terms of home test kits for lead in the drinking water.

Link thanks to Geek Press.

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From:madfilkentist
Date:June 21st, 2012 09:51 am (UTC)
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A claim of "no false positives or negatives" sounds very implausible. Cancers start small and grow, which means that with any test there has to be a borderline area. This could be very good news, but the insistence that there can't be any false positives could lead to unnecessary medical interventions. I once had a very unpleasant prostate biopsy because of a PSA blip, probably due to a recent bladder infection; such false positives have become an increasing matter of concern since then, to the point that some are saying the test is worthless.
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From:osewalrus
Date:June 21st, 2012 10:26 am (UTC)
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I believe he was referring to the outcome of the double-blind study, which is of course a small sample size and where all subjects are known to be either positive or negative. I did not understand him to claim that there would never be false positives or negatives in the real world. A 100% success rate in the double bind study is still extremely impressive.
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From:nancylebov
Date:June 21st, 2012 11:05 am (UTC)
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A blood test alone isn't enough to diagnose pancreatic cancer.

Even biopsies aren't conclusive.

So you've got a point that such a sensitive test will need to be used carefully.

Edited at 2012-06-21 11:06 am (UTC)
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From:vvalkyri
Date:June 21st, 2012 06:09 pm (UTC)
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I've been wondering about that, too.
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From:osewalrus
Date:June 21st, 2012 10:23 am (UTC)
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A few observations:

1. this is an example of how breakthroughs come from cross-specialty understanding. The critical insight requires both an understanding of physics and biology. The physics is how the carbon nano-tubes bonded to the antibody will reorient and change the conductivity of the strip in the presence of the pathogen.

2. Even 15 year olds think about patent first these days.

3. It is very inspring to see someone achieve their life dream like this.
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From:nancylebov
Date:June 21st, 2012 11:08 am (UTC)
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4. There's plenty of new tech whose possibilities haven't been thoroughly explored.
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From:pickledginger
Date:June 21st, 2012 12:39 pm (UTC)
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That's astounding. Huge. Wow.

(15?!?)
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From:redaxe
Date:June 21st, 2012 02:01 pm (UTC)
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This is very promising news indeed. Thanks for pointing to it.
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From:vvalkyri
Date:June 21st, 2012 08:31 pm (UTC)
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Interestingly, there's an update to the forbes article, noting that similar work has already been done both with breast cancer and pancreatic cancer.
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From:livejournal
Date:June 22nd, 2012 11:08 am (UTC)

Interesting Links for 22-06-2012

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User andrewducker referenced to your post from Interesting Links for 22-06-2012 saying: [...] ) Fifteen-year-old invents fast, cheap test for pancreatic cancer [...]
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