Saturday, 7 December 2013

"A bridge too far" for consumer genomics?

It’s amazing what is being done with DNA sequencing. Cancer genetics and personalised medicine make headlines, consumer genomics has been in the news and Genomics England are going to sequence 100,000 NHS patients. But all that glitters is not gold!


I’m not sure everyone will have seen the announcement last year from GeneOnyx on the NGS test to predict which skincare products you should be consider using. This was a collaborative venture with GeneOnyx and DNAe providing technology for the Organic Pharmacy’s Kings Road store.




According to their press release GeneOnyx were working with DNA Electronics Ltd on a service that uses a simple saliva sample as the input to a PCR-based SNP test. Specific genetic variations were to be profiled to allow a personalised recommendation for anti-ageing products from the Organic Pharmacy. In the press release from last year the team said “Our DNA determines when we start showing the signs of ageing and how quickly our skin ages. This is unique to each of us. The technological advances unique to the GeneOnyx system now mean that we can assess how likely you are to age early and also your ability to metabolise active anti-ageing ingredients used in our products.” Tests were to be completed while you wait for just £295.

Unfortunately when I got in touch to find out how the test had done over the past year I was told it had been withdrawn. I think this is a shame; whilst I’m sceptical of the claims made by many cosmetics companies and the statistical methods used to manipulate data, I really did like the Organic Pharmacy's take on how people might metabolise certain products differently. This was a definitely a novel approach to market cosmeceuticals. I hope the failure of this platform won’t put people off from pushing the envelope of consumer genomics in the future.

I was piqued to finally publish this blog post by the recent announcement of the UK Personal Genome Project and the NHS's decision to use genome analysis to test for Down's syndrome. I firmly believe Genomics that impacts real people is on the way.

How soon will genomics be part of normal life; are we on the road to our own version of GATTACA, Brave New World or somewhere better?

1 comment:

  1. This is very intriguing post for me. I am graduated as geneticist plus for the last year was studying at cosmetic science course. And now I have a strong opinion that it is probably too early to launch a business like that. And it is not only because of high price for this kind of pleasure. I really doubt the fact that we have enough knowledge about skin genes that will allow us to determine accurately individual skin concerns and especially the precise time when ageing starts. I was dreaming about job in that new exciting sphere, but now I understand that lack of knowledge and connection between cosmetic industry and science are too big. For now we even dont know the reasons of skin sensitivity, the mechanism of desquamation ans so on. This is a new approach and I was watching Geneonyx with the same interest as you. The idea of genetically tailored cosmetics is simply exciting, hope that one day it will be a reality. Something that scientifically proven and effective in use. There are also so many ethical problems in this field, people see genetics mostly like a help to diagnose diseases. So it is probably much easier to get investments for research for this purpose. Thats why I am probably still unemployed.) Actually I also like another idea with the same approach. It is early determination of talents for kids.

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