Usually all that comes out of a screening of a sad movie is a lot of popcorn consumed and some soggy tissues. But at a New Zealand cinema recently, something else was achieved — a potential breakthrough in detecting breast cancer.
Women watching the drama Brooklyn donated their tears to researchers who are developing a new cancer detection device. American researchers from company Ascendant Diagnostics (Dx) believe that tears could potentially help breast cancer with 90 per cent accuracy.
“The screening assay for breast cancer is based on a proprietary set of proteins found in tear fluid, called Melody,” the company explains in a research abstract.
“This collection of proteins can distinguish women who have breast cancer from women who do not with sensitivity of 88 per cent and a specificity of 86 per cent.”
But before seeking regulatory approval, the scientists need to refine the testing device and needed more tears. 400 women volunteered for the good of the research, and with a tear-jerker like Brooklyn on the screen it wasn’t hard to get samples.
Ascendant Diagnostics hopes to create a device that can more easily detect breast cancer early. While mammograms are currently the most common way for detecting the cancer, the company claims they are only 13 per cent effective for women with dense breast tissue.
The new technology they are developing does not have that issue, and they plan for it to be used in conjunction with other screening techniques. While the technology would be a huge breakthrough, it may be a few years away as scientists refine it.