On the surface Jack Andraka seems like any other high school student, Nike's and all. But nothing could be further from the truth. Last spring, as a 15 year old high school sophomore, he accomplished something adult cancer researchers have been unable to do despite millions of dollars in grants and years of research. Jack invented a test for pancreatic cancer that can detect the disease quickly and inexpensively!
Anyone who has experienced the death of someone close to them because of pancreatic cancer knows what this means; early detection and a chance for a longer life. It was just such a personal loss that sparked Jack's interest in this deadly form of cancer and launched him on his way.
The facts are grim. Almost 44,000 people in this country will contract the disease in 2013. Up to now, this elusive cancer with a 5% survival rate and has been almost impossible to detect until its advanced stages. Sadly, there are countless stories of people being diagnosed with this disease who are also told they have only a few months to live.
Pancreatic cancer receives very little coverage by the media until another celebrity or well known person dies of the disease. Just as frustrating is the lack of public awareness of this deadly cancer. It remains a baffling disease with few symptoms, which is one reason why this new detection test is so important.
According to multiple sources, including Forbes, this test is extremely accurate. It is as sensitive as it is selective, meaning it is designed so false positives or false negatives are not produced.
Jack received top honors and $75,000 in the Intel International Science Fair for his biochemical work of detecting the protein in blood linked to pancreatic cancer.
This is a disease that takes many people in the prime of their lives. Some of the most energetic and creative people have lost their battle with the disease. Most recently Steve Jobs death from pancreatic cancer received extensive coverage worldwide.
Other well known people who have died of pancreatic cancer include:
· Patrick Swayze, American actor/dancer, of Dirty Dancing fame
· Randy Pausch, American academic, lecturer and author
· Luciano Pavarotti Italian operatic tenor
· Gene Upshaw, Hall of Fame NFL player and head of the NFLPA
· Fiorello LaGuardia, Mayor of New York City
· Fernando Lamas, Argentian born film and TV actor
· Michael Landon, TV actor/director/producer Little House on the Prairie
· Fred Gwynne, TV actor famous as Herman Munster on TV
· Rex Harrison, Oscar winning actor, My Fair Lady
· Melvin Belli, Controversial lawyer briefly represented Jack Ruby
· Jack Benny, Comedian, radio, TV and film actor, "cheapskate" forever 39
· Frank Church, Democratic politician and U.S. Senator
· Joan Crawford, Oscar-winning star
· Richard Crenna, Emmy award winning actor
· Vince Edwards, portrayed one of TV's first doctors in a series
· Mark Goodson, TV producer, The Price is Right, Family Feud, Match Game
· Sally Ride, Astronaut, first American woman in space
For more in-depth information on pancreatic cancer visit the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. This is an excellent resource.