Calgary student invents $7 artery-disease screening test
Angela Mulholland, CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Friday, June 3, 2016 10:23AM EDT
A Calgary resident named Zeel Patel has impressed judges at a science fair by creating a test for clogged arteries that is many times faster and cheaper than what’s available now. What’s even more impressive is that Patel is just 16 years old.
Patel may only be in Grade 11 but he’s already an expert in atherosclerosis -- the buildup of plaque in the arteries that can lead to heart attacks, stroke or death.
He recently created a low-cost blood test for the disease that he calls CADSense. The paper-based test is placed into a blood sample and can detect an early biomarker of atherosclerosis called oxidized LDL. If the biomarker is present, the paper turns yellow or brown, indicating the patient likely has plaque in their arteries and should see their doctor for further testing.
Patel says his invention is able to detect the signs of atherosclerosis instantly, unlike current test that have to be sent to a lab. And because the materials used are cheap, the test would cost only about $7—much lower than current test costs. It’s so simple, it could even be used at home.
Two weeks ago, Patel won a gold medal at the 55th annual Canada Wide Science Fair at McGill University in Montreal for his invention. He’s also won Canadian Medical Laboratory’s Health Sciences Award, which is given to a health sciences project that’s the best in its age division.
Patel has now applied for a patent for CADSense and says what’s great about his test is that anyone can take it, even those who aren’t yet showing the symptoms of atherosclerosis or heart disease.
Ask Patel to describe exactly how the test works and it’s quickly evident he doesn’t talk like most teenagers.
"What my chemical reaction is actually based off of is that it uses potassium phosphate and adds it potassium iodide, which targets the lipid peroxide, so molecules on the surface of the biomarker… and it produces a triiodide ion” he explains.
Zeel admits he gets pretty excited when he talks about his work, which he suspects his teachers would confirm.
“What I think my teacher would say about me is that I am the loudest kid in the class, the one who is always talking to classmates while he is supposed to be working,” he told CTV Calgary.
Patel’s science teacher at Sir Winston Churchill High School, Deborah Miller, said Patel has tremendous enthusiasm and potential.
“Zeel is -- I would call him -- kinetic. I don’t think the boy sleeps,” Miller said.
“Zeel is awesome,” she added. “He'll argue with you about every little detail because he really wants to know... He is young but boy, is he going to be a major force in the universe as he matures.”
With a report from CTV Calgary’s Brad MacLeod