DNA key to customising wellness, weight loss solutions
Whether you are inclined to gain weight through fat or have low metabolism, a simple DNA test can eliminate the guesswork for you
Mention genetic testing and what comes to mind is forensics or medical diagnostics such as oncology or prenatal testing.
Now, you can add wellness solutions to the list, as more companies worldwide offer test kits that analyse your genes and tell you your tendency to gain weight through fat consumption, or if a low-carbohydrate diet is suitable for you.
A relatively new concept, DNA testing for wellness is popular among the health-conscious, who want to save time and achieve their wellness and beauty goals by following personalised diet plans.
Getting tested is a breeze: Spit into a plastic tube, have a courier pick it up and receive the results in your e-mail a few weeks later.
One company that offers such tests here is Imagene Labs, whose parent company Asia Genomics uses DNA for medical diagnostics. The start-up offers tests, under its brand Ori, that are designed to search for genetic markers influencing a person's skin, nutrition and fitness disposition.
The OriSkin test kit targets 10 skin traits covering 26 genes, such as collagen breakdown and sensitivity to sun.
Based on the results, Imagene Labs' experts can recommend changes to address issues, or customise facial serums to address potential skin concerns.
Those who opt for the nutrition test can buy supplements based on what their body needs.
Those who take the fitness test will receive exercise recommendations, put together by fitness experts according to what your DNA says about your muscle growth capacity, metabolism and other factors.
In the past year, the company has processed "thousands of samples", said Imagene Labs' chief executive and founder, Dr Wong Mun Yew.
It has expanded its footprint to Malaysia, Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia and China, where its second lab is located.
Dr Wong told The New Paper: "People are often amazed at - and then inspired by - how much genes can affect how they should eat, exercise and take care of their skin and body. They find the personalised recommendations in our reports easy to follow and demystifying."
Personalised solutions cut out the guesswork for consumers, who no longer have to blindly follow health or diet fads like cutting out gluten, or buy a skincare product because others rave about it.
"They prefer using our custom-blended skin serums and nutritional supplements that are better suited to them, compared to generic products in the market," said Dr Wong.
Now, Imagene Labs is working with wellness businesses, such as gyms and aesthetics clinics that offer these genetic tests and customised products as part of their services.
The company has also secured partnerships with some "major regional players" in the fitness and beauty industries, which they will announce in the coming months.
Said Dr Wong: "We are disrupting personal wellness with genetic-driven personalisation and hyper-targeted offerings. With the cost of genetic technology now low enough to make large-scale commercial application more economically viable, we foresee personalised wellness will become mainstream within the next five years."