Wednesday , June 23 2021

How DNA tests can help personalize medicine



You probably saw it somewhere. Personalized DNA tests are a great trend in medicine. Genetic tests are still slightly underdeveloped in South Africa, but it is a dynamically growing company around the world.

These DNA tests can tell us many things.

What diet we use best, for which we can respond well and, perhaps most importantly, help us understand how we process medicines. It can also help us track our heritage, but for the purposes of this article we will focus on health aspects.

Are we doomed to our genes?

Most of the results are theoretical, based on correlation, not causation.

And there is a debate around whether some of this information should be made available to consumers. Reports contain a lot of information. Some scary, some less. Some experts fear that without proper consultation, patients may be deterred because they are consulted by dr. Google with results.

Fortunately, the DNAlysis approach involves one hour consultation to get through all the information. Some tests can only be obtained through an accredited partner.

This is to help you understand what tests mean, remind you that the results are only suggestions and only because you are at high risk for X disease does not mean that you will develop it, provided you take the appropriate steps.

The audience can not also order some of the more nuanced tests, for example those that tell us about our risk of getting sick.

They are one of the most popular "available on the market" tests available.

DNA diet

This test helps to identify:

  • How the body reacts to carbohydrates, saturated fats, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats.
  • Obesity risk
  • How your body responds to exercise and how much you need to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Do you have a sweetness gene?
  • Do your genes predispose you to snacking or overeating.
  • Your circadian rhythm, i.e. Whether your body clock takes priority over morning or evening. Nocturnal circadian rhythm can have a negative effect on body weight, because at night it may be susceptible to more unhealthy options.
  • What diet plan is best for you.

DNA health

This test helps you to understand:

  • Metabolism of lipids and their effect on heart health.
  • Metilacy – DNA repair process.
  • Detoxification – removal of harmful substances from the body.
  • Inflammation.
  • Oxidative stress and whether you can be susceptible to disorders related to oxidative stress.
  • Bone health, in particular a gene associated with calcium absorption and bone loss.
  • Insulin sensitivity to genes that have a positive or negative effect on insulin and fasting insulin resistance.
  • Reaction to food – how the body reacts to lactose, caffeine, polyunsaturated fatty acids, sensitivity to salt, bitter tastes and alcohol metabolism

What my DNA tests showed

Here is a funny part. Well, fun for those who read, less enjoyable for me. Because my genes are unstable.

Reports are easy to read and understand using codes that show what effect your genetic variants have. I like this.

Dnaalysis Overview Bottom-bottom diet results
Photo: TheSouthAfrican.com
Dnaalysis review The results of the DNA test
Photo: TheSouthAfrican.com

Some of my results

In the diet test, my genes are fine. For optimal performance, the Mediterranean diet is the best. The bad news is that I can not surpass a bad diet. I will not help much to maintain or lose weight. This does not mean that I should neglect it, but diet should be a priority if I want to stay in shape.

Less pleasant, but not surprising, was to understand the problems associated with methylation, bone health and oxidative stress. All this was under the "high priority list". A dietitian who worked with me to explain these results, made recommendations and stressed that it was about working with my genes to achieve optimal health.

DNA tests and drug personalization

The most important thing for me, taking this test, was to help my psychiatrist better understand how to adapt my medications to help me cope with ADHD. I was only diagnosed as an adult. And, like anyone who has passed this process, he will tell you, finding the right meds can be an (expensive) trial and error.

I reacted well to methylphenidate (often sold under the Ritalin or Concerta brands), but it seemed that the processed extension was much faster than expected.

Therefore, it was hardly surprising that I have a genetic variant that suggests that I may have an "unfavorable" or "less optimal" response to the drug.

What unfavorable or less optimal ways will be different for different patients. In my case, it seems that it means that I process it differently. These variations also mean that the inattentive symptoms of my ADHD probably will not respond to drugs (yes, if you notice typos in this article, do not write).

"DNA tests can not diagnose ADHD, but the test can help the doctor prescribe drugs that are best suited to specific genes," explains Dr. Danny Meyersfeld, a drug addict and CEO of DNAlysis Biotechnology. "Our technology allows us to better understand genes and how your body will metabolise certain drugs."

Ah, bingo.

This test, known as the MygeneRx report, can be ordered on the medcheck site, but it is recommended that you do this in cooperation with your doctor. It tests responses to various drugs and will benefit anyone who needs to take prescription medications.

It is also worth taking into account the bigger picture. When it comes to mental health and how our genomes can help us understand this, Dr. Meyersfeld explains:

It seems to me that extensive research is carried out in this field, but it takes time for research to translate into the field of clinical utility. There is still so much about the mind and mental health that are not fully understood, but our knowledge is
it's growing all the time.

The good news is that research is still developing. Although the understanding of certain gene variants may be limited, our understanding of their interaction with the environment is well established.

"I think it's an exciting part for me, the very idea that our genes are not our destiny, but that we have the power to control and modulate gene expression through our choice of environment, so we can be more active and bear more responsibility our health, "adds Dr. Meyersfeld.

As with other tests, the Mind DNA test examines elements related to mental health. In particular, we look at genes that are associated with the risk of mood disorders, deterioration of cognitive functions and elements of addictive behavior. These risk factors can be an important clinical tool for healthcare professionals, providing them with insight on both the diagnostic and intervention strategies.

The risk of overloading DNA information

The results showed that I have many genetic variants (mutations, if you want scientists to be angry or sound like you belong to X-Men, or polymorphisms, if you want to do it) that involve many risk factors. Pay attention to the use of the word "risk factor".

If these markers show up (as they did for me) as something that requires action or which is "high priority", you risk a potentially frightening rabbit hole going down if you start feverishly launching Google.

That's why DNAnalysis does things in a very specific way and why you can not just walk by ordering all available tests. As Dr. Meyersfeld explains:

"Genes themselves do not cause disorders. They are risk factors that may predispose a person to the disease / disorder, but it may or may not appear depending on the environmental exposure.

"Reports can be overwhelming, but working with them through a trained health care worker makes management much easier." It's important to remember that testing focuses on modifiable risk factors, which means we give the patient the opportunity to make the necessary changes in diet, nutrition and style which can help to overcome many of the identified risk factors.

But even if all these steps are followed, there is always the risk that patients will continue to walk on Google because they are curious.

One of the leaders of these tests "for the consumer" has caused a great start in the United States over the last few years.

As reported AFP earlier in the year:

US regulators have given the biotechnology company 23andMe permission to become the first company to launch reports showing threats to the health of customers based on their genetics.

This private company focused on providing information about the origin after the FDA called it to seek health information based on genetics from four years ago.

The FDA stated that it allowed the testing of "individual and genetic health services" for ten diseases and conditions as part of a first-type service directly to consumers.

Is your DNA safe?

This is another worry for many. Because some sites (not all) that offer these tests store data on the Internet, there is a risk. Sometimes it can help you catch bad guys. But even this is not so easy. Also with AFP report this year:

The detectives in California used DNA left at the crime scene, combined with genetic information from a relative who joined an online genealogy service to catch the alleged rapist and murderer who had slipped power for four decades.

The arrest of 72-year-old Joseph James DeAngelo – considered the "golden state murderer" responsible for 12 murders and over 50 rapes in the 1970s and 1980s – has been hailed as a victory over innovative science and old-fashioned detective work.

"The answer was and always will be in DNA," said Anne Marie Schubert, District Attorney in Sacramento.

Although it sounds pretty good, it raised some concerns about privacy and ethics.

"What happens if you can not be insured because of a genetic test?" Said Joseph Turow, professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.

The FBI maintains a database containing the DNA of millions of convicted criminals, but DeAngelo did not have a criminal conviction and his DNA was not on file – forcing the police to turn to public genealogical sites to find a match.

The collection of intimate personal data is by no means limited to genealogical services, such as Ancestry.com, 23andMe or GEDmatch, used to track DeAngelo.

Yes, things are complicated. But in the larger plan of things, knowing as much as possible about how your body works, it becomes more and more available.

How does the DNA test work and how much does it cost?

DNAlysis offers the following tests – DNA diet, DNA health, estrogen DNA, DNA sports, DNA skin, Celiac disease risk tests and my Rx gene.

The tests can be ordered via the website and will be sent to you by courier in a small box. Please note that not all of them can be ordered online. In some cases, you may need to go through an accredited practitioner – do you remember what we said about those things that need to be explained by professionals?

Inside you will find a cotton swab and a plastic tube. Read the instructions carefully – it is recommended to avoid eating, drinking and smoking before taking the sample.

DNA tests
Picture: delivered

Taking the sample is simple and painless: wipe the area around the cheek for a while and put a swab into the tube. Mark them carefully with labels and send them back. Tests can be sent or received via a courier company, and the whole process is simple.

Processing can take anywhere from two to six weeks. You will receive an e-mail from the designated Explainer DNA as soon as it is ready to organize an hour session to review all your results. These consultations can be carried out by telephone or Skype.

You should also get a prepared summary explaining the most important results and what you can do to improve your diet / lifestyle based on your genetics.

The cost depends on what you are testing, but you look at several thousand areas, between R2500 and R4300 depending on the DNA test option you chose.

In the long run, however, it can be a price that is worth paying to ensure your well-being.


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