How beneficial is DNA detection? This article reviews the latest gene and health concepts around the globe. SpaChina adapted from BBC report
Stepping into Geneu, you feel like you’re entering the space age ruled over by peerless beauties. Female sales consultants with slim figures and gracefully dressed pass around you. Geneu is just a stone’s throw from exclusive boutiques on New Bond Street in London.
On the sparkling shelves of this unique skincare center are displayed a wide range of products with price tags that might take your breath away. Products of six months’ usage are sold at 3,000 pounds, or around 4,500 RMB per month. What drives Geneu’s customers to pay so much for facial cream?
Geneu explains that it is their customization that wins customers’ hearts. Geneu tailors products for each individual by studying their DNA.
Nowadays, affluent and educated people increasingly embrace the idea of keeping young by studying genetic information. This tendency helps boost the revenue of Geneu. Recently, DNA skincare began to gain visibility in London, Paris, New York, Los Angles and Singapore, and have won bigger markets in the Middle East and Russia as well.
Like many DNA detection companies, Geneu asks guests to provide saliva samples. If more money is paid, basic test results can be obtained within 30 minutes. They can also choose to have the samples delivered to the laboratory in Imperial College for analysis and get feedback within 48 hours.
The DNA detection aims to analyze the antioxidant composition within the body. Geneu says such analysis will help them evaluate the skin’s anti-aging capacity, to be more specific the probability and time of the emergence of wrinkles. The detection will also reveal the present collagen amount in the skin. Collagen is a protein composed of amino acid whose content will decrease with the increase of age.
The Validity of DNA Skincare
British market research company Canadean conducted a survey of 2,000 British consumers aiming to assess their attitudes toward personalized skincare. Results find that 45% of the respondents express interest in personalized skincare and hope to try such bespoke treatments in special laboratories. Also, 54% say they are willing to provide blood, skin and hair samples in exchange for tailor-made products.
Positive as the public attitude is, many gene experts remain doubtful of this concept, and Professor Nicholas Luscombe, the geneticist at University of London is one of them. Geneu, as well as other skincare and beauty centers focusing on DNA detection, understands the experts’ doubts: skin aging is largely influenced by environments and comparably much less by genetic factors. If we place a pair of twins in different parts of the world after they are born, they will end up with totally different skin conditions.
Nevertheless, all these doubts haven’t stopped consumers from embracing DNA skincare products. Moreover, they speak highly of this innovative skincare method after trying it.
Martine Peremans is one of the big supporters. For the last two years, she has been using DNA personalized skincare products continually. “I have very dry skin, so I really need a product that is tailored for me which brings much better effect than general products in the market,” she said. Peremans works in an administration department and she said that once she started using other products instead, she immediately felt the difference. “It is better than all the creams and essences I have used in the past. I believe it to be a promising skincare trial,”she added.
To conclude, although the environment exerts a big impact on the skin condition, personalized products that address individuals’ needs are still more powerful than general products when dealing with problems caused by environmental pollution and bad living styles.
Applications in Other Areas
Some people say that such bespoke haute-couture-styled beauty mode is nothing but another way for rich professionals to waste money in DNA detection. However, recently, DNA detection is also used to solve other problems.
In the United States, companies like AcestryDNA are advocating discovering your real blood lineage through DNA tests. They also encourage customers to share the results on social media platforms.
Since everyone has different gene heredity, people react differently in daily life. Gene composition is one of the main factors that decide a person’s possibility to get diabetes or heart disease. This explains why the same diet or exercise exerts a different influence on different people.
Some even boast that stricter tests will reveal the rate of getting hereditary diseases such as Parkinson’s or cystic fibrosis. But some companies who do such tests point out that a result indicating a high risk rate cannot guarantee that you will definitely get the disease.
As early as 2007, 23andMe already launched individual gene test services. 125 pounds will give you a DNA test of certain gene mapping. The company focused on thousands of hereditary variants, the diseases relevant to which are quite familiar to scientists.
Donna Abrahart, 56, lives in Portsmouth, Britain. Having known that some of her relatives died of cystic fibrosis in the 1950s and 1960s, she wanted to have a genetic survey of her own. So she came to 23andMe. Results showed that although she had CF gene mutation, she was only a carrier. Through the tests, she also discovered some other valuable information concerning her physical condition.
“I have gastro-esophageal reflux, my PPI drug sometimes fails to help,” Abrahart said. “Gene tests show that I have very quick metabolism.” This means that when she is suffering from reflux, she needs larger amounts of drugs to compensate. When she told her doctor the gene test result, the doctor gave her extra medicine.
Curiosity to the Origin
Katrina Chandler also pays 125 pounds to 23andMe because she wants to have clearer knowledge of her origins. She is 34 years old and lives in London. She was an adopted child, so she knew little of her natural parents.
Before the test, she thought she might be a mixed-blood of a Chinese and a Caucasian. But the test results showed that she was 100% a Southeast Asian descendent. “Every time when I went to see the doctors and dentists or fill out health forms, I was asked about my family medical history,” she said.
Matt Roberts provides DNA tests at his high-end gym located inside a five-star hotel on Park Lane in Mayfair, London, charging 249 pounds (2,200 RMB) each. He said he was able to tailor the most effective exercise frequency and intensity for each customer after studying their gene test results.
“The major benefit of DNA testing is that it eliminates many wrong guesses. With it, I can know your endurance, strength, oxygen intake, risk to injury and recovery speed,” Roberts said. “Gene tests give us better understanding of individual’s reaction tendencies to different situations. The test data shows the intensity of soft tissue and recovery rate of muscles, and help us know the most effective exercise type for the body.”
The test also shows one’s potential to develop allergies to caffeine, sugar, alcohol, fat and other foods. But he also said that although these data are attractive and sometimes indeed helpful, they are still incomplete reflections of reality.
Speculation or Reality
“In fact, gene differences have a slim effect on most common diseases,” said Dr. Helen Wallace, a member of the research organization Gene Watch. “So there is no need to attach so big attention and put reliance on DNA testing. For most people, DNA is not a dominant factor concerning whether you should have a healthy diet, quit smoking or do more exercise.”
Some rare cancers and other uncommon diseases, however, are highly hereditary. “But only those with apparent hereditary family medical history are recommended to have DNA tests, most importantly, done by professional medical institutes,” Wallace said. In her opinion, it is better not to carry out any DNA test on customers directly. Not every DNA test is trustworthy, nor is the after-test gene analysis and comparison necessarily authorized. For instance, we can’t do gene comparison for Asian blood lineage using a European gene database.
Rusco Phillips is not so extreme. He has visited a DNA test institute open to general consumers. “People are naturally curious about themselves. DNA sequencing is related to one’s core identity,” he said. “Gene sequencing and gene typing techniques have emerged.”
DNA testing is now with us, and readers should think deeply on the issue. The most important part of DNA testing is to correctly interpret the test results and find a key information that is helpful to your health. To those who already have certain ailments, DNA or genetic mapping tests can help them understand their problems better. Non-invasive DNA tests on fetuses can not only tell the healthy conditions but also the gender accurately. Many specialized institutes and hospitals in Hong Kong and mainland China are qualified to do this. Also, DNA tests have long been used in the medicolegal expertise area.
As a supporter of DNA test, Abrahart says: “I feel that it gives me more knowledge about my health. This is a good thing to me.”