It’s not very often that you can say you were part of research, but last night we watched a tearful movie, Brooklyn, and then gave these tears to scientists in the hope that they will help detect breast cancer.
We headed along to Auckland’s Academy Cinemas, where Ascendant Dx scientist collected the tears of cinemagoers for the first time, ever.
It was a unique experience, but it was all in the name of science.
Scientists at Ascendant Dx discovered that tears could potentially be used to detect breast cancer with up to 90 percent accuracy. It is still early days for the device, named Melody, but something like this could change the course of breast cancer screenings.
We spoke to Chief Scientist from Ascendant Dx Anna Daily to find out why they were collecting the tears of movie-goers.
“The Breast Cancer Screenings came about as an effort to raise awareness of New Zealand women to the importance of consistent breast cancer screening. A secondary goal of the event is to help Ascendant collect much needed general population samples to use in developing our test platform.”
Before coming to New Zealand, Ascendant Dx identified a panel of three proteins that can differentiate women who have breast cancer to those who don’t, with a sensitivity close to 90 percent.
This means a lot, for both those who have access to good screening tools and those in developed countries with bigger challenges.
“The beauty of this test is that it can be run in any clinic without the need for expensive equipment,” Daily said.
“In developed countries the biggest challenge with breast cancer screening is non-compliance with available screening methods, i.e. mammograms. Introduction of our test, which could be implemented during an annual wellness exam, could prompt more women to participate in screening.
The idea is that if the tear test came back positive the patient would need to go on for imaging to find where the tumor is located. ”
Breast cancer is the most common cancer for women and it is the third most common cancer overall. In fact, seven New Zealand women hear the news that they have breast cancer everyday.
Anything that can help, whether it is a teary movie-going experience or urging the women in your life to get checked.
You might be wondering how our tears we collected, despite my initial thoughts we did not have to cry and catch it with test tubes! Instead, volunteers came around and places a strip of absorbent fabric on the lower eyelid, with a small amount of paper in the eye. As someone who hates eye-drops, I can tell you this didn’t hurt at all.
All of these test strips will be used to test the stability of tear proteins.