Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Science of Determination

Let’s start this post with a question, reader

Do you know who Jack Andraka is?

  He’s a guy like you or me, about 16 now, brown hair, lives with his parents. He also happened to have discovered a way to detect pancreatic cancer that’s much more accurate and way cheaper than the standard test. Compare the cost of Jack’s handy dandy test strip: 3 cents to around the standard test:  800 dollars.
  It all started when a close family friend had died in 2011. Now many people in comic books and movies have the tendency to avenge the deaths of loved ones, by fighting the thing that led to their deaths. His foe being cancer, Jack decided that the only way he could fight a unique foe was through the good old fashioned scientific method. It came to him in science class of all places (shocker, right?). He was reading an article on nanotubes and their applications, while the teacher gave a lecture on antibodies. Now our hero, Jack had a eureka moment of sorts. He could combine the idea of nanotubes and Antibodies to make…something. So he came up with a proposal based on google searching and other free online science journals. He came up with a spiffy plan that included an approximate budget and necessary equipment, all that was needed was a sympathetic institution to grant him some lab time. It took him almost 200 rejections from many institutions until finally one yes came from a Dr. Anirban Maitra from the prestigious John Hopkins School of medicine, which saw potential in our dear hero Jack.

   Jack proceeded to then tackle the research head on. After 7 months of research, the results were in short, Using carbon nanotubes, human antibodies, and filter paper, the strip is constructed to be electrically conductive. Then when the paper reacts with Mesothelin, the antibodies bind with the Mesothelin, resulting in enlarged antibodies that disrupt the conductivity of the strip. This resulted in a makeshift dipstick test for pancreatic cancer, and also seems to works with ovarian and lung cancers. Jack is currently working on the patent for this method, in the meantime also refining the process.

Jack is a true model of determination in the face of unlikely odds.

He did alright

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