May 23, 2013

Cancer Innovator


Scott: Meet sophomore Jack Andraka. He is working on a science project scientists twice his age might struggle with.

Jack Andraka: I created a new way to detect pancreatic, ovarian and lung cancer that costs three cents and takes five minutes to run.

Scott: A while back, Jack lost a close friend to pancreatic cancer. That is when this 16-year-old from Crownsville, Maryland dedicated himself to preventing more deaths from cancer, and stopping people from feeling the same loss he did.

Jack: Eighty-five percent of all pancreatic cancers are diagnosed late, when someone has less than a 2% chance of survival. And our current test costs $800 per test and misses 30% of all pancreatic cancers.

Scott: Jack is right. The National Cancer Institute estimates that more than 45,000 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year. And more than 38,000 will die from the disease.

Jack spent hours in his room using info he found online to come up with a new way to detect cancer.

Jack: A hundred and sixty-eight times faster, over 26,000 times less expensive and over 400 times more sensitive than our current methods of diagnosis.

President Obama: Jack, stand up.

Scott: Jack’s innovation got him a shout-out at the White House science fair where President Obama seemed impressed by his determination and ambition.

President Obama: Jack requested space from research labs to pursue his work nearly 200 times. Two hundred times he asked. Two hundred times he was turned down.

Jack: I kind of knew that a lot of them were just, kind of, being a bit discriminatory because they were like, ‘this is a fifteen-year-old, he can’t possibly be doing this.’

President Obama: Finally, with the help of some folks at Johns Hopkins, he got the research facilities that he needed.

Scott: Overcoming obstacles like that may explain Jack’s reaction when he won last year’s Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. That is not just a title, but also $100,000 in scholarships and prizes. Now, Jack Andraka’s got his eye on an even bigger competition.

Jack: The name of the competition is called the Tricorder XPRIZE. Essentially, what you have to do is develop something the size of a smartphone that you scan over your skin and it will diagnose any disease instantly.

Scott: Scott Evans, Channel One News.


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