Andraka coated strips of filter paper with a mixture of single-walled carbon nanotubes, which made the paper conductive, and antibodies against human mesothelin. Samples containing mesothelin were applied to these paper test strips, and the binding of mesothelin to the antibody was quantified by measuring changes in the electrical properties of the strip.
Andraka claimed that tests on human blood serum obtained from both healthy people and patients with chronic pancreatitis,pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (a precursor to pancreatic carcinoma), or pancreatic cancer showed a dose-dependent response. According to him, his method is 168 times faster, 1/26,667th as expensive, and 400 times more sensitive than ELISA, 25% to 50% more accurate than the CA19-9 test, and over 90 percent accurate in detecting the presence of mesothelin.
He has patented his method of sensing pancreatic cancer and is communicating with companies about developing an over-the-counter test. According to Susan Desmond-Hellmann, oncologist and former chancellor of UCSF, any practical usefulness of the test remains to be seen. Much more testing, possibly over several years, is needed to demonstrate that the test can catch cases early and reliably enough.
Not bad for a 15 year old kid.