Feb 282013

Boy wonder Jack Andraka is creating a dream team of young scientists to work on creating a Star Trek–like handheld device that can diagnose disease just by scanning your skin.

The $10 million Tricorder X Prize asks entrants to create a handheld mobile platform that can diagnose 15 diseases across 30 patients in just three days. A NASA Ames-based startup called Scanadu is working on a model that will cost under $150. But Scanadu is about to have some competition: a three-person team of Intel Science Fair finalists, led by Jack Andraka, the 2012 winner. The group of kid geniuses–they’re calling themselves Generation Z–is working on a smartphone-size device that can, according to Andraka, “diagnose any disease instantly.”

In 2012, Co.Exist spoke to Andraka, a 15-year-old (he’s now 16) who won the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for developing a nearly 100 percent accurate paper sensor that detects pancreatic cancer better than anything else out there–it’s over 400 times more sensitive, 168 times faster, and 26,000 times less expensive than today’s methods. We were the first news outlet to speak to Andraka; since our interview, he has become something of a media sensation. And on Wednesday, he hit TED’s stageto talk about his accomplishments.

Generation Z started coming together last year when the team members met at the 2012 science fair. The group started working in earnest this summer and will continue plugging away at least until the X Prize deadline in 2015–Andraka’s senior year of high school.

The team members are all working on different pieces of the tricorder. Andraka says that he is working on “something the size of a sugar cube that can look through your skin and into your bloodstream, look at every single protein in your blood, and diagnose diseases based on that.” Another team member is working on a flash drive-size ultrasound machine. Yet another is working on an MRI test that fits on a card.

There are no Ph.D.-clad scientists helping with the project. “It’s all just us, the kids. It’s fun knowing no one’s helping,” says Andraka. The group doesn’t have funding, either, but the majority of the members have access to labs. Andraka is hoping that the sensors used in the group’s device will cost under $50, but right now, he says, “We haven’t really dealt with that. We’re just developing the technologies.”

Read more . . .

via FastCoExist – ARIEL SCHWARTZ

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