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Local Teen Scientist Invents Early Detector For Pancreatic Cancer

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Jack Andraka
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Linh Bui joined WJZ Eyewitness News in July 2013 as a weekend anchor...
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CROWNSVILLE, Md. (WJZ)—A local scientist may have found a way to fight cancer and save lives. And even more remarkable? He’s still in high school!

Linh Bui reports the Maryland teen is getting lots of national attention.

The teen prodigy came up with his invention freshman year during biology class. But this weekend, he was in the national spotlight, sharing his story with people around the country.

Jack Andraka from Crownsville was recently profiled on CBS’ “60 Minutes.”

He’s an inventor, scientist and North County High School student.

“For me going to the lab is pretty much play. I mean, it’s the funnest thing ever,” Andraka said.

Andraka won the grand prize at the Intel International Science Fair last year, winning $100,000 for his invention.

His reaction was priceless.

“I wasn’t expecting any awards there. Then when I won, I was just flabbergasted. I was, like, freaking out. I was just like what?” he said.

His journey began at age 14 when a family friend died of pancreatic cancer.

Andraka learned there was no early test for the disease. So he created one himself.

He invented a carbon coated strip. When placed in a machine he built, it can detect an increased presence of mesothelin, which is associated with the disease.  His cancer test could save thousands of lives.

Andraka now speaks at medical conferences worldwide.

“At the beginning of this, I didn’t even know I had a pancreas. So if I could do that…” he said as a crowd erupted in laughter.

Andraka believes his invention will one day be in every doctor’s office.

“I have enough data to prove that this works, and so now I’m going to give it to the pharmaceutical companies to run it through clinical trials,” Andraka said.

Meantime, Andraka’s back in the lab working on new tests.

He’s a brilliant teen with a bright future.

“Hopefully I’ll be doing work that will help change the world,” he said.

In the past year, Andraka has spoken in Canada, Italy, Australia, Greece and England—while maintaining a 4.0 GPA.

Andraka has already come up with a new diagnostic invention, which he’s using to compete for $10 million. He’ll go up against more than 300 other teams. All of them are made up of adult researchers.

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