A Malaysian company has revolutionised wellness care through the screening of DNA to find ways to mitigate the risks for developing diseases, operates one of the largest computational centres for genomic and genetic analysis in Southeast Asia. Whose mission is to bring genetic information into mainstream medical practice to improve the quality of healthcare. Tommy Lee now finds himself championing a growing new field in Malaysia, one that he calls a "health-changing technology".
It is designed to help individuals and families to better understand their genetic risks for conditions that affect their overall health. Results of the test can help medical practitioners to develop more personalised wellness and fitness programmes for
Kuala Lumpur, 8 September, 2015
Doctors no longer looking for immediate problems but long-term potential benefits and life issues
Genetics Healthcare Centre (GHC) announced that conducting the latest wellness and fitness genetic screening test on a person’s DNA could identify genetic variations that affect an individual’s overall wellness and fitness levels. Based on the test results, wellness and medical practitioners can advise individuals on optimum dietary intake, lifestyle changes and suitable exercise.
GHC’s Chief Executive Officer, Tommy Lee, said, “Genetic applications are becoming an important part of preventive medicine. Wellness and fitness genetic screening test could assist medical practitioners to develop a more personalised health regime for their patients. In turn, patients may be suitably informed to take more proactive steps towards eating healthily and exercising effectively.”
"This is the technology that will keep us healthy, it's not just about treating disease," he says.
Tommy Lee is talking about genetic screening, or the analysis of DNA to identify instructions in our biological code that can lead to an illness or influence how we develop.
"We are the first generation in human history to have access to our own genetic information; who can change our ways of seeing health," says Tommy Lee.
Besides determining more superficial physical traits such as hair and eye colour, the information stored in our genetic database and unlocked through GHC like Tommy Lee can reveal the risk of developing diseases (for example, the mutated BRCA1/2 genes associated with breast cancer) and the underlying causes of mysterious health problems. The tests are now even being used as indicators of a child's aptitude for sport or which subjects he or she will do well in at school.
"It's totally different from the old way of checking health," Tommy Lee says. "Back then, you could do scans, you could do blood tests and so on to see if anything existed, but only on that day. So if you scanned one day but your cancer started growing the next, you wouldn't find anything.
"That's the gap that's filled by genetic science. We're not testing to find out if there's anything wrong today, but if there's anything wrong with your operation manual from day one, that will go on until the end of your life."
The cost of sequencing a person's genome has plunged from US$3 billion (the amount spent on the Human Genome Project) 13 years ago to about US$1,000. As a result, gene testing has become something of a booming industry. It took hold first in the US and has since sparked concerns over people's easy access to information they don't really understand. But regulations are now in place to ensure the involvement of doctors throughout the process. Earlier this year US President Barack Obama pledged that the 2016 budget will include US$215 million for so-called precision medicine, based largely on genetic testing.
As genetic screening becomes affordable and quicker, a slew of companies has emerged in Malaysia in recent years to provide such services.