Leading ‘Direct to Consumer’ genetic testing companies

Direct to Consumer Genetic testing

From allergy to alzheimers, cancer to coeliac disease,  we can blame everything on our ‘Genes’.  These genes spread across our 23 pair of chromosomes and remains more or less the same throughout our life (leaving aside environment induced changes).

So it would mean if we are able to understand our problematic Genes well before, we would be able to combat our disease better or even prevent it from expressing by making lifestyle changes or even going under the knife (preventive double mastectomy done by Angelina Jolie)

We never heard of it in earlier days

2003 was a landmark year for geneticists. The very first human genome was completed in 2003 as part of the Human Genome Project, which was formally started in 1990. This costed a whopping $2.7 billion. This gave scientist new hope and with time and coming in of newer technologies the whole procedure became simpler. Now it’s possible to sequence entire human genome in a couple of days with less than $10,000. This does not mean everybody has to shell out so much. It’s possible to analyze a small stretch of genes (already mapped to diseases through research studies) to predict the possibility of developing disease like cancer or cardiovascular problems.

 Define Genetic Testing

Genetic testing is a type of medical test that identifies changes in chromosomes, genes, or proteins. The results of a genetic test can confirm or rule out a suspected genetic condition or help determine a person’s chance of developing or passing on a genetic disorder. There are mainly seven types of genetic test and over 2000 tests are available.

Can a simple medical test tell whether my child or myself will develop chronic illness?

Anne Wojcicki, co-founder of 23andMe

Anne Wojcicki, co-founder of 23andMe ran a swab across the inside of her baby boy’s cheek, and tested her daughter’s amniotic cells. She did this to get a glimpse of her children’s genes and determine whether they contain certain kinks that increase the risk of developing anything from gallstones to multiple sclerosis. “As a parent,” says Wojcicki, “the most responsible thing I can do is get as much information about my children as possible so I can then think through how I can make them as healthy as possible.”

Should I go to my Physician

Sequencing, or “reading,” a person’s genome has grown into an industry by itself.  Now one can even order these tests online from the comfort of their home, without any prescription from healthcare professional. This new age companies are called ‘Direct-to-Consumer’ genetic testing companies. They just need blood sample, cheek swab or saliva (based on the test selected) to perform the tests. The results are then send across through email or uploaded to personal account. The tests either confirm or rule out a person’s chance of developing a disease, or indicate a person as a carrier for a particular disease. The result often include dietary advice to prevent the onset of the disease, which is very valuable.

Define Direct-to-Consumer genetic testing companies

Direct-to-consumer genetic testing refers to genetic tests that are marketed directly to consumers via television, print advertisements, or the Internet.

Direct-to-consumer genetic testing refers to genetic tests that are marketed directly to consumers via television, print advertisements, or the Internet. This form of testing, which is also known as at-home genetic testing, provides access to a person’s genetic information without necessarily involving a doctor or insurance company in the process.

In total there are around 250 plus companies which offer genetic testing services. Click here for complete list

Trusted direct to consumer genetic testing companies

Read more

Predictive Genetic Testing : Angelina Jolie, Anne Wojcicki, Anu Acharya

Predictive Genetic Testing

 

Angelina Jolie hit the news headlines in early 2013 by announcing her decision to go for elective double mastectomy after testing positive for mutated BRCA1. People from around the world suddenly came to know about ‘ Predictive Genetic  Testing’. The impact was really big. A retrospective study performed at a Toronto hospital in 2014, for example, reported that the number of women referred for genetic counseling skyrocketed by 90 percent in the six months after Jolie’s announcement. The number of women at the hospital identified as BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation carriers during that period jumped by 110 percent.

Why Predictive Genetic Testing is important

 “Error” in our genes (called “mutations”) can cause disease and predictive genetic tests help to confirm the disease probability in advance.

“Error” in our genes (called “mutations”) can cause disease and predictive genetic tests help to confirm the disease probability in advance. image
  • Determine whether you would get Cancer or other chronic illness in future
  • Determine whether your unborn child is prone to genetic disorders like Downs’Syndrome
  • Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) can prevent a couple from having a sick child
  • For couples who worry about passing along hereditary illnesses 
  • For children with diseases like autism, genetic testing can inform their pediatrician of specific contributing genetic factors influencing the severity of their illness. 
  • From infants to teens, parents can use genetic testing to confirm or rule out a suspected diagnosis
  • Help in avoiding unnecessary clinical investigations
  • Help in taking preventive measures to reduce the risk and severity of the disease in the future

Finally, Preventative care is the best solution for successfully treating or avoiding future illness

Angelina jolie effect

Predictive Genetic Testing ?

Read more

Raising Healthy Children

The best time to start good dietary habits is during the early years

Complete food, Best growth formulation, Power food, The best health drink – these are tag lines used by various health drink or growth supplement brands. But in reality, there is nothing called complete food. Children need dozens of nutrients every day to maintain growth and development. Offering children the right balance of nutrients –carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals – that can maximize their growth potential and brain development, has become a great challenge for parents. Especially in an age where there are more junk or processed foods than healthier or homemade foods. House becomes a battle ground as children are all in favor of processed foods.
Start eating healthy at early years
The best time to start good dietary habits is during the early years. Researchers suggest that the best way to get children to achieve balance in their diet is to teach them very young and lead by example. This is very essential as nutrition in early life play a crucial role in deciding how health will turn out in later life. Diet, exercise and other aspects of children’s daily interaction with the environment have the potential to alter brain health, mental function and physical performance.
Rather than blindly following ‘balanced diet chart’, ‘best brain food’, ‘top food for growth’, it’s essential to understand where the bond with food begins and how food, nutrients and human body interact. A deeper understanding about food and human body would help parent to dish out right amount of nutrients for their children.

Food preference first develops in the womb

Read more

Prodding little deep into our obsession with Fairness

Let’s understand the important point – No fairness cream can make the individual fairer than the skin with which the person was born.

There’s a creation story in Thailand. In the beginning god created man. At first, he cooked the people too much (dark skinned people). Then he cooked them too little (pasty westerners). Finally, he cooked them just right (light skinned Asians) .

Skin color is determined by the degree of pigmentation of the skin which depends on the melanin content of the keratinocytes. It is the body’s natural protection against solar ultraviolet (UV)  radiation. But all over Asia, the bias towards fair skin that has come from colonial hangover is still on. From Korea to Japan to Thailand to India, dark skinned people are obsessed with fairness cream . That being said, this issue is not just unique to South Asia. Whitening creams are sold by leading brands like Olay, Ponds and many other favorite brands in Africa, the Caribbean and even in the Middle East .

Fairness cream and Facts:

Read more

Healthy living choices can prevent ‘Birth defects’

Most birth defects are present within the first three months of pregnancy

You are pregnant…great news. Are you worried whether your baby will be born with birth defects. Especially after seeing what is happening to mothers from Brazil where babies are born with microcephaly. The Zika virus is  a big concern right now especially if you are in American or Asian continent.

Worldwide, at least 7.9 million people are born each year with a birth defect.  85% of the world’s birth defects occur in developing countries. There are more than 7,000 kinds of birth defects that are known to occur. Study finds 400,000 children born with new mutations each year worldwide. Congenital anomalies are responsible for the death of more than 300,000 infants worldwide.  These all news kind of scares an expectant mother. According to Parents Magazine, 78 percent of expectant mothers rated birth defects as their number one concern.

For many babies born with a birth defect, there is no family history of the condition. Some birth defects like cleft lip or spina bifida are easy to see. Others, like heart defects, are not. – National Birth Defects Prevention Network

Read more

Science of Samosa

“Samosa” is from the Sanskrit word meaning “the solution (to your hunger) is contained within”, so named because all the needed vegetables and spices are contained inside the samosa.

The Indian samosa is one among the family of stuffed pastries or dumplings popular from Egypt and Zanzibar to Central Asia and West China. Arab cookery books of the 10th and 13th Centuries refer to the pastries as sanbusakc , sanbusaq or sanbusaj. From Egypt to Libya and from Central Asia to India, the stuffed triangle with different names has garnered immense popularity. Originally named samsa, after the pyramids in Central Asia.

 

Biggest secret to popularity and survival over the centuries is its different varieties of fillings catering to carious tastes across the globe. In Kazakhstan, for example, a somsa is typically baked and has a thicker, crumblier crust. Fillings generally range from minced lamb and onions, meat, and even pumpkin. The Hyderabadi luqmi, on the other hand, is strictly meat-filled and far crustier than the regular samosa consumed elsewhere in India and Pakistan. In our globalized world, the growing popularity of fusion food has witnessed the advent of the pizza samosa, chowmien samosa and the macaroni samosa. Dessert varieties inspired by western cuisine include the apple pie samosa, and the chocolate samosa.

Pizza samosa
image: http://freshdepo.in

“Samosa” is from the Sanskrit word meaning “the solution (to your hunger) is contained within”, so named because all the needed vegetables and spices are contained inside the samosa. 

 

Read more

Valentine’s day around the corner: Real life Love Potion

Love will be in the air on Valentine’s Day in the form of chemicals called pheromones or ‘Signature Odour’

Valentine’s day is around the corner. Everybody is on last minute purchase for their loved ones. Gift alone may not be enough. Gift, Love and little bit of love potion will definitely do the trick. Love potion is a combination of  scents that can create a soothing and relaxed feeling. Odors can work wonders upon the human mind and body when it comes to getting passionate.

Smell has a strong bond with love, that’s why romantic films show the forlorn hero smelling the sweater or pillowcase of a long lost lover. Aromas elicit emotional responses

Scientists have discovered a potion that really does have a aphrodisiac effect – with women who have inhaled it finding their partners 15 per cent more attractive. The spray contains syntocinon, a synthetic form of the hormone oxytocin, which is naturally released in the brain when people fall in love. Researchers at the University of Bonn in Germany are behind this discovery. Vero Labs bottles oxytocin like perfume and promises to help people build “relationships that were never possible before.”

Love will be in the air on Valentine’s Day in the form of chemicals called pheromones or ‘Signature Odour’.

 

Read more

Science of Umbilical cord blood banking

The saved stem cells can be used in the treatment of new born, his/her siblings and even parents

This is a must read for Expectant parents. One must know all about umbilical cord blood and their advantages and disadvantages, before heading to cord blood bank. One should be aware of the truth that  the odds that a child will ever use his or her own stored cord blood are small.  Also currently, it is unknown how long umbilical cord blood will maintain its usefulness while frozen, some says 15, some says 20, some says lifelong.  The potential benefits and limitations of allogeneic (from different individual) and autologous (same individual) cord blood banking and transplantation should be known. Even then, storing umbilical cord blood is definitely a good option, but whether one should opt for public or private bank, the decision must be taken after understanding the pros and cons of UCB (Umbilical Cord Blood) and understanding the science around it.

Advantages:

Read more

Do you Remember Dolly ?. Not Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton 

Dolly the sheep, made from breast cells, was famously named after Dolly Parton, the American singer known for her large chest as well as her voice.  Dolly was the first example of successful cloning of a mammal from an adult cell.

Life of Dolly:

Read more

Vaccines: Read this before you head to your doctor for next shot

Vaccines have contributed to a significant reduction in many childhood infectious diseases

Vaccines have been a great life saver. It’s been around from the time Edward Jenner demonstrated in 1798 that we could prevent smallpox in humans through vaccination.  The number of disease cases starts to drop when a vaccine is launched. Vaccines have contributed to a significant reduction in many childhood infectious diseases, such as diphtheria, measles, and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib). Smallpox has been eradicated from many countries through vaccination. Vaccines definitely are the most effective tool we have to prevent infectious diseases.

But then, vaccine production is a big industry in itself.  80% of global vaccine sales come from five large multi-national corporations. The global vaccines market is expected to reach USD 48.03 Billion by 2021 according to MarketsandMarkets. Newer and newer vaccines are coming into the market every year. There are at least 30 causative agents against which vaccines are available and many more agents are targeted for development of vaccines. The number of shots a baby has to take has increased over the years. New optional vaccines have also entered the Indian market. If we go for all the shots it will add up to 49 doses of 14 vaccines.

The question we need to ask ourselves is do we need all of it, what will happen if we opt out of some, are all vaccines safe, do we know enough about them or we just go by what doctors say, are we aware of anti-vaccination activists.

How many of you have read Vaccine Package Insert

Read more