Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Simple Cancer Test

PostedOctober 14, 2012

Download File (mp3)

Anchor Lede: A Maryland high school student who recently won the prestigious Intel science competition, is engineering a simple test that could revolutionize cancer detection and treatment.

Randy Atkins: Jack Andraka was keeping an ear on his biology teacher’s lesson about antibodies while secretly reading an article on carbon nanotubes.

Jack Andraka: Basically an atom-thick tube of carbon, and it’s one fifty-thousandth the diameter of your hair.

Randy Atkins: And it hit him. When a thicket of nanotubes spreads apart, even slightly, electric signals can be detected. So combine them with antibodies that latch onto a protein in the blood of cancer patients…put that on a paper test strip…and a simple test might be made.

Jack Andraka: Prick your finger for a sixth of a drop of blood and then you can read whether or not you have pancreatic, ovarian, or lung cancer.

Randy Atkins: Johns Hopkins researchers helped Jack engineer the concept. He says it not only works…but its way faster, cheaper, and more sensitive than current tests. With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.

Patents have been filed, and the test could be commercialized in about two years.