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Forbes: 15 year old seems to have revolutionized testing for disease

Discussion in 'Other Health News and Research' started by Waverunner, Aug 22, 2012.

  1. Waverunner

    Waverunner Senior Member

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    Wow, I'm really excited about this news. Everyone knows that we still have great problems, when testing for diseases, especially viruses and cancer. He won the grand price of 75k from Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Maryland and his test method seems to be a breakthrough in diagnostics.


    http://www.forbes.com/sites/bruceup...d-from-maryland-just-change-cancer-treatment/

    ...a paper test strip that uses minute changes in conductivity to detect targeted viruses or antigens faster, cheaper and more accurately than today’s standard diagnostics. It seems too good to be true, but the panel of judges at the Intel science fair are not rubes....

    ...Compared with the 60-year-old diagnostic technique called enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (or ELISA), used in pregnancy test strips and viral checks for HIV, West Nile and hepatitis B, Andraka’s sensor is 168 times faster, 26,667 times less expensive, and 400 times more sensitive. It can spot the presence of the cancer-linked protein well before the cancer itself becomes invasive. This could save the lives of thousands of pancreatic cancer victims each year. The sensor costs $3 (ELISA can cost up to $800) and ten tests can be performed per strip, with each test taking five minutes. It can be used also to monitor resistance to antibiotics and follow the progression of treatment of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation...

     
    camas likes this.
  2. Snow Leopard

    Snow Leopard Hibernating

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    These sorts of headlines always amuse me. There are plenty of scientists who produce this sort of work every year, it is not single-handedly revolutionary. The impressive part is that a 15 year old is doing graduate-student level research.
     
  3. Waverunner

    Waverunner Senior Member

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    Well, the questions then are, why other scientists have not patented this way of diagnosing disease and why he still won the grand price of 75k. I know that there was some sciencedaily news about a diagnostic chip a year or so ago but in the end I still wonder why this form of testing doesn't become available.
     
  4. Snow Leopard

    Snow Leopard Hibernating

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    Presumably difficulties scaling up production with suitable specificity/sensitivity. The sensitivity of these lab demonstrated biosensors isn't always so impressive...
     
  5. Waverunner

    Waverunner Senior Member

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    But it says in the text, that it is "400 times more sensitive" than a normal ELISA. Why should it be only so sensitive in a lab environment?
     
  6. Snow Leopard

    Snow Leopard Hibernating

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    It remains to be seen, but I do expect these new generation biosensors to hit the market sooner or later. I had to learn all about various biosensors back in 2006 for my degree, it seemed like there were going to be novel biosensors 'real soon', but I haven't seen them yet. The previous generation tended to either be extremely expensive (for the detector device, the test strips are usually cheap), or lacked sensitivity/specificity.


    Much of the difficulty and expense comes from the production of the carbon-nanotube based sensor itself. These have not been commercialised yet. Carbon nanotubes themsleves are the most expensive material that I can name, and you need a particular sort (there are an amazing range of nanotubes and you tend to get a mix of them all when you try to make them - good/cheap methods of separating them are still elusive) to make the sensor. But on the other hand you only need a very small amount, so the cost can come down with scale of production.

    I am still impressed, this is still graduate-student level research done by high school students. The winners of other science fairs in the past year have also been impressive:

    Siemens Science Contest:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/15/angela-zhang-high-school-_n_1207177.html?
    (This was also a biosensor based project and was a bit more novel than Andraka's project)

    Google Science fair
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=her-summer-pastime-cancer-research
    (some more traditional biochemistry, also cancer related..)
     
  7. Waverunner

    Waverunner Senior Member

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    That sounds interesting. I didn't know that these carbon nanotubes were so expensive but I'm quite sure that their prices will fall like the prices for genetic testing fell from 250,000 dollars to a few bucks within a decade. I'm still very ashamed by the medical field however, that it takes so unbelievable long from discovery to actual clinical practice.
     
    justinreilly likes this.

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