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Saturday, 19 May, 2001, 00:54 GMT 01:54 UK
Health programme tailored to genes
DNA samples could be used to create "action plans"
Scientists have created individual health programmes based on DNA profiles.

The service, which costs 120 a year, uses genetic profiles to assess a person's metabolism and then offers health advice.

People enrolling for the scheme are sent a self-test kit to take DNA samples from inside their cheeks.

Sciona's screen provides individually tailored recommendations

Dr Chris Martin, of Sciona

Would-be subscribers are then asked to fill in a lifestyle questionnaire, which is compared to the DNA samples.

The results will then help Sciona, the firm launching the test, to tailor its advice on healthy living specifically to their client.

Sciona said the tests would enable it to tell clients how they should change their lifestyles, what foods they should and should not eat and how certain chemicals would react with their bodies.

The tests, thought to be the first of their kind in the world, should soon be available in health clubs, clinics, chemists and health food shops.

Widely available

Sciona's chief executive Dr Chris Martin said the current advice on diet left many people confused.

"We are offering a fundamentally new service to the public," he said.

"There is already a lot of information out there recommending, for instance a diet high in fruit, broccoli and grains and low in char-grilled red meat, smoked and preserved foods and alcohol.

"Consumers find this advice daunting, as they are not sure to what extent it pertains to them as individuals.

Obese woman
The test will recommend lifestyle changes to get healthy

"Sciona's screen informs the subscriber which elements of advice are particular to them and provides individually tailored recommendations."

But the DNA would not be used to indicate whether a person is vulnerable to a particular genetic disease or fatal condition.

Dr Martin said a number of people had already said they would like to take part in the tests.

Dr Gail Goldberg, of the British Nutrition Foundation, said she would be interested to see how the test worked.

"I am curious to know how it works and what advice it can give," she said.

"I didn't know scientists could now use DNA to tailor their health advice."

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