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13-Year Old Finds a Way to Treat Pancreatic Cancer

Edited By: Krista Mc'Farlene
 When it comes to pancreatic cancer, survival rates are extremely low. Statistics show that around 9% of people with pancreatic cancer survive for five years, and only around 1% survive for 10 years. And these stats haven't improved significantly in the past 40 years either. However, one 13-year-old 8th-grader from Portland, Oregon, Rishab Jain is determined to change these statistics with his AI-based tool, PCDLS Net, which improves pancreas tracking during radiotherapy. Jain also won the 2018 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, before he started high school. 
 
pancreatic cancer

But how did he get started? "It all started in the summer of 2017 when I went to visit my brother in Boston, and there I learned about some research that was happening, and the surprisingly low statistics about pancreatic cancer, like its survival rate." In light of this, he created an artificial intelligence-based tool called PCDLS Net to improve pancreas tracking during a treatment called radiotherapy for pancreatic cancer. 

Currently, pancreatic cancer is detected in quite a late stage, so by then, doctors use radiotherapy to help treat it, but most of the time, it is not effective enough. This inspired Jain to do some research on this. "Because I am a big programmer, and I like artificial intelligence, so I wondered if I could combine my knowledge in the two areas to help solve the problem, and I created an artificial intelligence-based tool called PCDLS Net to improve pancreas tracking during a treatment called radiotherapy for pancreatic cancer." 
Jain contacted over 253 doctors and got 30 replies from leading experts from institutions at cancer centers and around the world. 

What makes surgery for the pancreas even more complicated is that it is very hard for the human eye to detect. This poses a big problem to radiologists and oncologists who have to find the pancreas and apply the radiation treatment. "other organs such as the stomach and liver that may cover the area, and also, it's right below the lungs causing it to move during some of the treatments. It's also very hard to reach in. It's right in the center of the abdomen next to the spinal cord... It's sometimes detailed as a mushy or angry organ because of its position in the body," he says. 

pancreatic cancer

This is where Jain's invention comes into play. "My tool can be run to find where exactly the pancreas is in one of these CT or MRI slices and output this result instantaneously." He adds "currently, doctors have to apply sometimes a seven-millimeter overlay around the pancreas of radiation, and this can affect millions of healthy cells, so my tool is able to reduce that area to around four millimeters, so that saves millions of healthy cells and can improve patient quality of care." 

Jain says that he has detailed a five-year plan about how he want to globally commercialize his tool, PCDLS Net, improving pancreatic cancer survival rates. "I envision partnering with a hospital as well as 3M to work and create my tool as an add-on, and for this, I'll need to conduct clinical testing, so I want to gain FDA and IRB approval. So I want to continue pursuing medicine and engineering as I grow up, so for my undergraduate degree, I'm thinking about becoming a biomedical engineer," he concludes.

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Related Topics: tips, health, cancer, guide, Pancreatic cancer
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