What if you could predict if your well-being, your health will get disrupted?
What if you could predict if you could be headed down an unfavorable path?
What if you could predict if your health was about to break?
Would you still sit back and let the song of life play on, or would you change the track to a happier number?
Your computer, phone, car, headphones, PlayStations, what-have-yous give you warning signs about their impending crash – and you immediately jump up and do something about it. Find that warranty card, give it for servicing, find a replacement…whatever needs to be done, is done! But what about our health? Does our body throw out these warning signs? I mean yeah, we check for lumps, feel for pain, test for blood analyte levels, but these aren’t warning signs. These are indications of the health being broken already (to a varying extent).
We live in a world of remedial medicine, engaging with the healthcare system when we need to get “fixed”. We react to disease. We don’t get ahead of it. This isn’t entirely our fault either; the healthcare system itself is built in such a way that medicine has adopted a reactive rather than proactive approach to wellness. Find the problem and fix it. And it has worked….for the most part.
But let’s take this a step further. What if we could better understand our predispositions to health problems rather than focus on recognising symptoms of their manifestation? What if healthcare, in general, became more predictive, more preventive in nature? What if health management strategies and treatment processes became more personalised and precise; catered to each individual rather than the population? What if we could participate in the health management process – becoming the owners of our own well-being?
What if I told you that we have moved ahead of this “What if” world. (Ah the irony!)
To bring about this paradigm shift in healthcare, all you need to do is look deeper inside you – at your very foundation, your DNA. Gain a deeper understanding of your genetic predispositions, and identify your health strengths you ought to leverage and weaknesses you need to work around. This gives you the platform from where you can commence your journey into a proactive, preventive, predictive, precise, participatory and a lot more personalised healthcare regime! Wait no more – Take the plunge into the immersive, immense, immaculate realm of Personal Genomics and discover the power of the immutable (for the most part) DNA – the blueprint of your being!
We have DNA at the heart of each cell in our body – the book of our life, written in a 4 letter language. A, T, G and C. These 4 letters come together in a defined sequence to write our 3.2 billion letters long book of life. Chapters of this book, termed genes, contain recipes to make proteins, enzymes, and other regulatory elements in the body, leading to each process happening within us – right from cell division and respiration, to the color of our eyes, the texture of our hair, how we break down food, how we respond to a workout, how we metabolise drugs….everything!
Genome is the technical term for the complete set of genes or genetic material present in each cell in our body. The genome of any two humans is about 99.9% identical. That 0.1% variation is the reason behind how we are all physically, physiologically, psychologically and behaviourally unique. While some of these apparent differences are easily observable – height, hair/eye color, attached vs detached earlobes, dimples etc; most of these variations occur at a molecular level. If you’ve ever wondered why the same diet, workout or drug doesn’t work the same way for you as it does for your friend – you’ve unknowingly acknowledged these “hidden” variations. Simply put – It’s unequivocally resonated amongst all that genetic variations are responsible for every aspect of your life that differs from the next person – be it your response to food, drugs, workouts, disease predispositions, or just how you look and behave.
Having said that however, if your genetics standalone determined how your life unravels, this long rant would end right here.
But that’s not the case. While your DNA does write out the story of your life, it does get influenced by external factors – namely your environment, lifestyle and nutrition. Now hold on…that is a good thing! You see…all these “external factors” are in our control and can be modified!
Remember – your DNA is your instruction manual, not your destiny
Once you’ve read the instruction manual, you can modify the external factors to make them suitable to YOU. Someone with a genetic predisposition towards improper dietary fat metabolism can almost (if not completely) remove dietary fats from their meals, while someone with a genetic predisposition to colorectal cancer can frequent his screening, and reduce char-grilled foods from his diet (Yeah! Tandoori chicken can be detrimental to someone with a high risk for colorectal cancer – I’m as furious as you are!).
90% of the leading causes of death, globally, have something to do with your genetics. Not a statistician, but I’m rather convinced that this number is large enough to dissuade one from embracing ignorance. My slow walk to this epiphany quickened up its pace back in 2012, when a close friend lost both his parents to cancer in the span of just 13 months. Different cancers. Both didn’t respond well to traditional chemotherapy, and by the time the “right” cocktail was determined (by trial and error of course), we had already crossed the line into the domain of palliative care instead of a curative aspiration. This got me thinking…If only my friend knew about his parents’ health risks beforehand, could they have done something earlier to prevent this? If only their treating physician knew which chemotherapeutic agent would work best for them, and started them off on that treatment protocol, could they be here today to share their story with us?
And considering that he got 50% of his DNA from each of them, was he also headed down the same road? Is there a detour? Could he reset the GPS and take a different path?
It’s funny how we tend to process information so much better, and with so much clarity in retrospection. Why do we board this train of thought from the “grave situation” station? Reflection is a good thing, provided we take some action after that. And taking that action is easy.
The genomics market today is akin to the universe – expanding with each passing day. Whole genome sequencing, whole exome sequencing, clinical exome sequencing, monogenic disorder testing, next generation sequencing based testing, Sanger sequencing based genetic diagnostics, deletion-duplication testing by MLPA…the list is endless! But not every test out there is for you.
Save for one – A personal genomics test like Genomepatri, which is the ultimate starting point in your journey of genetic self discovery. Through a simple, non-invasive, saliva swab, you can get your Genomepatri – a veritable gold mine of information about your genomic predispositions towards a plethora of genetic traits, conditions, diseases, drug responses, you name it!! Once you’ve read your instruction manual, a genetic counselor helps you interpret it, and gives you actionable information on how to modify the environment to embark upon a destiny of your choosing. All this through just one test, one that costs less than over 85% of the smartphones out there in the market today!
And that’s not all. Decoding your genome obviously has immense value for you, but also for the society. With your consent, your anonymised, de-identified genomic data gets added to the research and development database, furthering our knowledge of the demographic genomic variations – enabling the development of precision drugs, treatment protocols, screening strategies, nutritional profiling and a deep molecular understanding of the society.
Your DNA is way more powerful than you think.
Unleash that power.
Do your part for yourself, and the society.
Embrace the promise of Personal Genomics.
About the Author
Udbhav Relan is a member of the Mapmygenome gene pool, having joined us after completing his MSc in Biotechnology and Enterprise from University of Manchester (UK). He loves hitting the gym regularly and going on biking trips. When he isn’t working, he can be found either in a nature reserve – clicking away to his heart’s content, or strumming his guitar trying to ape his childhood heroes – Metallica, but mostly he would be found in a bar, cheering on Manchester United while chugging down gallons of…Green tea (Hey! He’s a fitness freak!)