The DNA Whisperers
We’ve all watched crime shows where the police use DNA results to link a killer to a crime scene before throwing them in jail. But what you might not know is exactly how much your DNA can say about you.
And no, we’re not talking about just your ancestry and genetic history. You can test for so much more.
Why are we telling you all this? Well, it’s because we have our very own DNA-testing laboratory, GENEWAY, right here in Silverton, Pretoria.
We caught up with DNA specialist, Dr Christa North, to find out more about this unique form of medical testing and its benefits.
What does DNA testing entails?
Just like in the movies, Geneway’s DNA tests are performed on a sample of cheek cells. The procedure uses a small cotton-like swab to collect a sample of cells from the inside surface of the cheek.
This sample can easily be collected at home and without medical assistance using Geneway’s DNA collection kit as shown in a video on their website.
After the collection, the sample is sent to the laboratory in Silverton, where geneticists look for specific changes (or SNPs – pronounced “snips” ) in the DNA.
“One application of this is for example when the SNPs are used to detect and calculate genetic risk of developing multi-factorial diseases like diabetes, problems with weight, certain types of cancers, but more importantly these results can also inform you on what you need to do to reduce those risks.”
How long before the test results are available?
Approximately two weeks.
Who can benefit from DNA testing?
Everyone! Individuals who want to reduce their risk for diseases such as heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, cancer, high cholesterol, sleep disorders (circadian rhythms), dementia, impaired detoxification, homocysteine imbalance, high blood pressure, mood disorders (i.e. depression or anxiety), insulin resistance and diabetes.
DNA testing is also for individuals who want to know what their genetic sporting strengths and weaknesses are and how to optimise it.
It can also help people who want to know what type of weight management plan is best suited for their needs or people who want to know more about how they metabolise, and how they can address it.
If they don’t metabolise at optimal level, tests can be done for caffeine metabolism, iron metabolism, vitamin-B metabolism, salt sensitivity, dietary carbohydrate sensitivity, dietary fat sensitivity, toxins, lactose intolerance and even certain medications.
DNA testing can even help If you want to know how to influence your anti-ageing process.
DNA testing is for people who want to be empowered to make informed decisions and help their healthcare practitioners to guide your medical care.
Our future health lies in awareness and being able to plan a lifelong diet, exercise and general wellbeing plan that is aimed at reducing those diseases you have a susceptibility to.
What is the process to getting your DNA tested?
To fully benefit from the results of DNA testing, it is best to require the help of someone qualified to interpret the result and make the correct recommendations that are required.
If you are thinking about using GENEWAY to do DNA testing, simply visit their website www.geneway.co.za for a full list of practitioners who offer the tests and will have DNA kits available.
Alternatively, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to order a DNA kit.
How much does it cost?
“The most popular test available is the GENECOMBO. It consists of four tests that covers about 60 genes
“If you do all four tests simultaneously the lab work costs R4 542 – that works out to about R75 per gene.
This cost includes comprehensive reports that explain exactly what you need to do to overcome your genetic weaknesses and optimise your genetic strengths but excludes the consultation fees.
The separate tests are:
• GENEDIET – focuses on overweight risk and micronutrient needs.
• GENEWELL – focuses on health and wellness, pharmacogenetics (which medications will be effective or not), estrogen.
• GENERENEW – focuses on anti-ageing.
• GENESPORT – focuses on optimising sport. Separately, the tests cost about R3 200 each.
• Another option is to test for 28 genes – the GENEWAY Core screening test for R3 450.
For more information on DNA testing or GENEWAY, visit www.geneway.co.za.
Dr Christa North and Bianca Samson, the medical scientist in charge of the Geneway DNA Laboratory.