Tears are a signal of more than just our emotions. The liquid in tears comes from blood plasma, and contains a lot of the same proteins and other biomolecules that circulate in the bloodstream—including those released as a byproduct of the inflammation around tumors. Harry's guests Anna Daily and Omid Moghadam are from a startup called Namida Lab that’s the first company to market a lab test using tears to predict cancer risk. Specifically, Namida’s test assesses the short-term risk that a patient might have breast cancer, as a way of helping them decide how soon to go in for a mammogram. And beyond breast cancer, the company aims to build a whole business around risk assessment and diagnostics, using just the biomarkers in tears. Eventually it could be possible to collect a sample of your tears on a small strip of absorbent paper, send it in to Namida Lab, and find out whether you have colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, or ovarian cancer. Namida’s big vision, as Moghadam and Daily tell it, is to use tear testing to make precision medicine and diagnostics more accessible and affordable, including to patients who might live far away from tertiary care centers.
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