15-Year-Old Maker Astronomically Improves Pancreatic Cancer Test

Maryland young maker Jack Andraka isn’t old enough to drive yet, but he’s just pioneered a new, improved test for diagnosing pancreatic cancer that is 90% accurate, 400 times more sensitive, and 26,000 times less expensive than existing methods. Andraka had gotten interested in pancreatic cancer, and knew that early detection is a challenge. He gleaned information on the topic from his “good friend Google,” and began his research. Yes, he even got in trouble in his science class for reading articles on carbon nanotubes instead of doing his classwork. When Andraka had solidified ideas for his novel paper sensor, he wrote out his procedure, timeline, and budget, and emailed 200 professors at research institutes. He got 199 rejections and one acceptance from Johns Hopkins: “If you send out enough emails, someone’s going to say yes.” Andraka was recently awarded the grand prize at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for his groundbreaking discoveries. [via Fast Company]

Watch Andraka talk about his improved test:

Grow It Yourself – 3D Printing Living Structures

Pioneering bioartist Oron Catts will give a two-part workshop titled “Grow It Yourself – The Semi Living World,” at Brooklyn’s Genspace later this month. If you can’t afford the workshop but are interested in the topic, you may want to consider attending his talk on Wednesday, July 25th, which is free.

Today with 3D printing we can make our own products from dead materials like plastics. What if we could print living material—like organs and skin—with a 3D bioprinter? Make your own tissue cultures at this workshop. First, learn how to design and build a DIY incubator, sterile hood and centrifuge. Then learn the essentials of tissue engineering. The workshop will cover the main techniques of regenerative medicine and will explore the broader cultural and artistic implication of using living tissue within artistic context. By the end of the course you will have learned how to make the tools necessary for tissue engineering and build your own living structure with biodegradable soft polymers and 3D scaffolds created by a MakerBot 3D printer.

More events at Genspace.

The Golden Frog’s Arduino Utopia

Behind multiple green-glowing fish tanks in a backroom gallery in Brooklyn sits “Anthropologist-In-Residence” Eben Kirksey. His Multispecies Salon tells the complex and interwoven histories of two frogs: the African clawed frog, sold commonly in the US as a pet, and the Panamanian golden frog, endemic to Panama and labelled endangered but suspected to be extinct since last decade.

Eben in his “office”

The African clawed frog was commonly used in pregnancy tests even as recently as the 1950s, and is suspected of being one of the main vectors of the chytrid fungus, which was cause for the golden frog’s extinction. Before its extinction though, a breeding program was launched by the Maryland Zoo and the National Aquarium in Baltimore and they have successfully bred and thereby rescued the species. However, their program has proven so successful, that they sadly cannot keep all the frogs they breed while they cautiously try to find a way to reintroduce them, taking into account their sensitivity to the chytrid fungus.