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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