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DNALabs News

The COVID-19 pandemic with its subsequent mental health consequences has challenged most people. The social isolation after the lock-down has not only led to economic difficulties but also adverse psychological reactions. The most common reaction is stress, anxiety and depression when faced with life-threatening circumstances or an impending negative economic outlook. People have to deal with the imminent issue of death which is anxiety provoking in itself. This calls for dealing with the immediate mental health consequences with the aide of technological advancements.
 
Given the depression rate is likely to continue to increase and will remain high, especially in those at-risk (for example, those who suffered a job loss, the loss of a parent due to COVID-19 and front-line workers worried they would get ill), it is evident that taking care of mental health is more important than ever. 

The increased use of medications used to treat problems related to mental health is understandable given the global nature of the pandemic and there needs to be a heightened awareness on employee well-being. Mental health conditions generally require longer-term treatment so employers will need to consider holistic approaches to care. Employers need plans to assist employees with mental health issues. As well, employers must provide employees who are experiencing mental health conditions with the necessary tools that include access to doctors, pharmacists, therapists as well as genetic testing.  

Our
MatchMyMeds Drug Compatibility Test delivers the best pharmacogenomics science to the everyday healthcare consumer. This DNA testing tool is your first step to personalized medicine.  It’s Precision Medicine with your name on it.  Our LoveMyHealth Lifestyle Genetic Test is a comprehensive lifestyle test that empowers you with personalized and actionable recommendations tailored to your unique genetic makeup.  Avoid the trial-and-error approach and tailor your lifestyle according to your genetic make-up for optimal health and disease prevention.

Moni Lustig, Chief Executive Officer
Genes and Cannabis:

Did you know that our genes play an important role in how we metabolize cannabis? This observation enabled us to develop a gene-based cannabis sensitivity test, called TestMyTolerance™.

The TestMyTolerance cannabis sensitivity test looks at how your body metabolizes THC and CBD.  For example, similar to MatchMyMeds, if you metabolize THC too slowly, it would not be cleared away quickly enough and therefore might build up in your system. If this is the case, you may want to start with a lower dose to avoid side-effects. We also look at a few genetic markers associated with cannabis-induced psychosis. So if you are a slow metabolizer of THC AND you have a risk of psychosis, you may want to avoid strains that have THC (or select strains with low amounts of THC; or reduce dosage).

 While this test can be helpful for patients that are nervous about trying cannabis, and can help doctors feel more comfortable prescribing it, I think the real opportunity with a test such as this is on the research side and for patient acquisition/retention.

On the research side, we could test patients and deliver information to the prescribing physician to help them prescribe more safely and effectively based on how the patient metabolizes THC and CBD, while also considering risk for things like addiction and psychosis. For research purposes, the test panel could cover an additional ~800,000+ genetic markers to be used for discovery, where we could potentially make associations with specific ailments that patients have, specific strains that patients use, other cannabinoids and terpenes, etc. The goal would be to ultimately create a test that could predict the best strain and dose for each specific patient based on their goals and their genes, and in turn, the data could inform which strains to grow more of, which strains should be used for clinical studies, where sales and marketing should focus, etc.

On the patient acquisition/retention side, we can tailor our test for a given Licensed Producer’s (LP’s) specific strains. For example, if a specific strain is normally prescribed anywhere between 1-5g per day for anxiety, our report could say that for a specific patient, for anxiety, because they are a slow metabolizer, they may want to start with 0.5-1g per day. If a prescribing physician has a tool such as this, they may be more inclined to send the prescription to that LP, and a patient may be more inclined to stick with the strains listed in their report and not move their prescription to another LP.


Dr. Aaron Goldman, Chief Science Officer
 
Missing ‘this’ could be making a huge difference in your memory
 
How often have you heard, “make sure to eat enough choline today”? Probably never, as choline is rarely on our radar, but this essential nutrient provides the building blocks to hundreds of pathways. Choline is a fatty B vitamin derivative, acting as a methyl donor, backbone to phospholipids (phosphatidylcholine, sphingomyelin) for cell membrane integrity, and substrate for acetylcholine production, an important neurotransmitter for memory, mood, muscle control and other functions within the nervous system. Choline also plays a role in gene expression, cell membrane signalling, lipid transport and metabolism, bile secretion and early fetal brain development. 

Humans derive choline from both dietary and endogenous pathways. The endogenous pathway relies on PEMT, phosphatidyl-ethanolamine methyltransferase, to create choline. This gene is under estrogenic control, meaning that those with low estrogen (men and menopausal women) are at an increase in risk for choline deficiency. In addition, genetic variations within PEMT result in loss of hormonal activation leading to an 80% risk of choline-related organ dysfunction in susceptible populations, including not only men and menopausal women, but those with an increased need for choline, such as pregnant and lactating women.
 
Choline deficiency is associated with:
  • Anxiety
  • Liver damage and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
  • Muscle damage
  • High homocysteine and cardiovascular disease
  • Memory issues and neurodegenerative disease
  • Fetal cognitive impairment, neural tube defect and cleft palate
Those with the PEMT at-risk variants require increased dietary sources of choline to compensate. It is therefore important to do genetic testing to determine individual requirements. 

Treatments to increase choline include:
  • Increase choline rich foods https://test.dnalabs.ca/foodtables#foodsourcesofcholine 
  • Reduce saturated fat intake to less than 10% of total caloric intake
  • Supplement with choline or DHA-phosphatidylcholine 
  • Vitamin E to reduce NAFLD
  • Methyl donors such as B complex (methylcobalamin, methyfolate) and betaine (TMG)
Dr. Robyn Murphy, ND
Scienfic Advisor at DNA Labs Canada


References:

1. Zeisel SH. Choline: Critical Role During Fetal Development and Dietary Requirements in Adults. Annu Rev Nutr. 2006;26:229–50.
2. Resseguie ME, da Costa K-A, Galanko JA, Patel M, Davis IJ, Zeisel SH. Aberrant estrogen regulation of PEMT results in choline deficiency-associated liver dysfunction. J Biol Chem. 2011 Jan 14;286(2):1649–58.
3. Corbin KD, Zeisel SH. Choline Metabolism Provides Novel Insights into Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease and its Progression. Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2012 Mar;28(2):159–65.
4. Zeisel S. Dietary Choline Deficiency causes DNA Strand Breaks and Alters Epigenetic Marks on DNA and Histones. Mutation research. 2011 Oct 20;733:34–8.
5. Fischer LM, da Costa K-A, Kwock L, Galanko J, Zeisel SH. Dietary choline requirements of women: effects of estrogen and genetic variation. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Nov;92(5):1113–9.
6. LeBlanc MJ, Gavino V, Pérea A, Yousef IM, Lévy E, Tuchweber B. The role of dietary choline in the beneficial effects of lecithin on the secretion of biliary lipids in rats. Biochim Biophys Acta. 1998 Aug 28;1393(2–3):223–34.
7. Office of Dietary Supplements - Choline [Internet]. [cited 2021 Jan 19]. Available from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Choline-HealthProfessional/

 

“Embracing 2021 with Optimism”
 

I have always believed that the purpose of every company should be to make people’s lives better. You could say that this mantra is in fact part of our ‘DNA’.  And while we always will be a company with our customers and stakeholders first in our mind, we recognize that our business focus will have to adapt to the changing world around us and beginning to see some light after a year of darkness has made our team more committed then ever. Our best-in-class genetic tests are using the latest research and technology available to provide valuable information in every report. This year 2021, the evolution of our research will continue with dispatch, and I might add we are really pleased with the amazing team of impressive minds that will help us imagine tomorrow.
 
Our New Years resolution remains our commitment to providing great genetic testing products at reasonable and affordable prices. This allows us to stay true to who we are by making people’s lives better one test at a time.
 
2021 has ushered an era of hope through the worldwide commercialization of a long-awaited vaccine to rein in the pandemic that changed so many lives. 2021 is where values such as transparency, integrity and reliability will be put to the test, we believe it is especially now more than ever.  This is why our commitment to 2021 is unshakable, and we will embrace the coming year with hard work and with innovation; it is integral to who we are as a team at DNA Labs.
 
If you are one of our customers since we began, we thank you.   If you have not yet purchased one of our products as they say ‘give us a try’; we will show you just how determined, we are to help you live a better life.
 
At DNA Labs, we do not follow trends, we actually create them!
 
Wishing everyone a good, safe and healthy start to the New Year. 
 
Michael S. Kerzner, Chief Strategist

Our products

MatchMyMeds™

MatchMyMeds™ by DNALabs is focused on delivering the best of pharmacogenomics science to the everyday healthcare consumer. This DNA testing tool is your first step to personalized medicine. It informs the right dose and it’s just right for you. It’s precision medicine with your name on it.

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LoveMyHealth™

LoveMyHealth™ by DNALabs is designed to provide insights into the key factors of your health and well-being based on your genomic profile. It empowers you to improve your health and well-being by providing actionable nutrition, exercise and lifestyle recommendations personalized to your unique genetic makeup.

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TestMyTolerance™

Ready for Canada’s legalization of cannabis for both medical and recreational use, DNALabs Canada has developed TestMyTolerance™, a cannabis sensitivity test. Informed and responsible use should include your body’s unique response to the various psychoactive and non-psychoactive compounds found in cannabis.

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From our blog

What is Genotyping?

Genotyping is one of the most powerful tools in genetics. It allows scientists to understand your genes and the types of proteins that they code for. It is the basis for many genetic testing companies, including MatchMyMeds™. Unlike full genome sequencing, genotyping involves sequencing only small portions of DNA, called SNPs. Sequencing is the process of determining the exact order of bases in a portion of DNA. Variations in SNPs causes changes in the structure and function of metabolic enzymes found in the liver that process and break down medications. Even the smallest variants can be found with genotyping, making this a valuable technology for genetic testing.
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