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When a rare genetic disease that went undiagnosed triggered his adolescent son’s kidneys to fail, biomedical engineering professor Chris Toumazou was determined to uncover hidden health risks.
The professor understood that even though his son’s disease couldn’t have been prevented, the family may have been able to manage his lifestyle a lot differently if they had known about the disease.
DNA Wristbands to Help Save Lives
So, Chris went on a mission to help others change their lifestyles and to help them avoid getting sick.
He says lifestyle has a “massive impact” on many undiagnosed conditions, like high blood pressure and diabetes. So changing one’s behaviour has serious potential to help save lives.
The professor’s research came up with a simple DNA wristband that takes your DNA that helps you to make healthy options when you are grocery shopping.
By exploring the part of an individual’s genetic code determining vulnerabilities to nutrition-related health ailments such as diabetes, DNANudge tells you what foods are best and the particular foods you should avoid.
Using your DNA to Grocery Shop
The DNA wristbands scan grocery barcodes and will give you the green light if the product is okay and will turn red if it could be harmful in the long term. In addition, the wristband is linked to a smartphone app which provides the person with healthier substitutes when they receive a red light.
Following the professor’s son’s illness, Toumazou invented the microchip to read a person’s DNA from a mouth swab sample. It is now used for uploading the DNA profile to the DNA wristband. It’s a method that takes less than an hour rather than up to eight weeks for a standard DNA test.
“It uses your biology to guide and nudge you to make healthier lifestyle decisions for the long term,” says Toumazou.
DNA Wristband Keeps You Moving
The DNA wristband will also help to encourage better overall health by letting you know when you are inactive for too long. An orange indicator light means it is time to get up and move.
One in 10 people with the reversible condition pre-diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes, a disease that affects over 400 million people worldwide. Although, early diagnosis may encourage people to help change their lifestyle to avoid acquiring type 2 diabetes.
Thankfully it was a happy ending in Toumazou’s son Marcus’s story. After the young child spent months on dialysis, he would receive a kidney transplant and today is in excellent health.
One day he got to meet the Queen for the opening of his dad’s new laboratory in London, England. He told the Queen his dad was changing healthcare by inventing microchips to help save lives.