Cancer can directly and indirectly affect many lives, and, more often than not, the persons suffering from the illness will have their lives shortened because of the lack of an affordable method for early detection. However, a teenager's simple and inexpensive approach to cancer detection may eventually afford people the opportunities to have early diagnoses and, therefore, possibly saving their lives.
The existence of accessible and inexpensive treatments to various illnesses does exist, but consumers don’t get to decide what big pharmaceuticals will release and withhold. So when we hear of people like Jack Andraka, a 15-year-old high school student, coming up with an idea for an inexpensive method to test for and diagnose various forms of cancer, we want them to bypass the politics behind drug companies to accelerate the process of creating better and more affordable tests and treatments for those in need.
(Without health care insurance, having yourself scanned with one of these bloody machines can cost a fortune)
Despite his age, Jack has the drive and keen sense for putting the pieces together. He became interested in learning more about cancer when a close friend, who Jack refers to as his “uncle”, passed away due to pancreatic cancer.
Through a lot of research Jack realized that if he mixed mesothelin, a key marker for certain cancers, specific anti-bodies with carbon nanotubes coated with strips of conventional filter paper, he can produce a simple tool for detecting early signs of cancer. Think of his method for cancer detection as a “dip-stick”, similar to what diabetes patients use to measure their blood sugar level. Jack’s method for cancer detection is purported to be 168 quicker than methods currently available, 26,000 times less expensive, and is possibly almost 100% accurate.
The teen is currently pitching his idea to various labs, and hopes that eventually his potentially life-saving test will be adopted. You can check out his interview with Forbes here.