December 3, 2012

Early Detection of Pancreatic Cancer with Carbon Nanotubes

Early detection of pancreatic cancer with carbon nanotubes.
Smithsonian on Jack Andraka’s finding a new method to detect pancreatic cancer using carbon nanotubes. 
The Science paper he was covertly reading at his desk was about applications for nanotubes. With half an ear, Andraka listened to his biology teacher lecture on antibodies, which bind to particular proteins in the blood. Suddenly, the two ideas collided in his mind. What if he could lace a nanotube network with mesothelin-specific antibodies, then introduce a drop of a pancreatic cancer patient’s blood? The antibodies would bind to the mesothelin and enlarge. These beefed-up molecules would spread the nanotubes farther apart, changing the electrical properties of the network: The more mesothelin present, the more antibodies would bind and grow big, and the weaker the electrical signal would become. Other scientists had recently designed similar tests for breast and prostate cancers, but nobody had addressed pancreatic cancer. “It’s called connecting the dots,” Maitra says.

Jack Andarka is currently a sophomore in high school.

Tags: pancreatic cancer detection, pancreatic cancer carbon nanotubes, pancreatic cancer jack andarka, jack andarka carbon nanotubes