This wristband tells you what food to buy based on your DNA

DNA

(Holger Link, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Douglas Broom, Senior Writer, Formative Content


When an undiagnosed rare genetic disease caused his young son’s kidneys to fail, Professor Chris Toumazou vowed to find a way of uncovering hidden health risks.

The professor of biomedical engineering realised that, although his son’s condition could not have been prevented, the family could have managed his lifestyle very differently had they known about his condition.

So, he embarked on a mission to help people change their lifestyles and avoid getting sick.

 

Lifestyle, he says, has a “huge impact” on many undiagnosed conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Changing behaviour could save lives.

The result of his research is a simple wristband that uses your DNA to help you make healthy choices as you shop for groceries.

By analysing the part of your genetic code determining susceptibility to nutrition-related health conditions like diabetes, DNANudge tells you which foods are best for you, and which you should avoid.

DNANudge analyses your genetic code and tells you which foods are best for you, and which you should avoid.
Image: DNANudge

Shopping with your DNA

The wristband scans shop barcodes and shows a green light if a product is OK and red if it may be harmful in the long run. The wristband’s linked smartphone app suggests healthier alternatives when the red light comes on.

Following his son’s acute illness, Toumazou also invented a microchip that can read an individual’s DNA from a simple mouth swab sample. It’s now used to upload a DNA profile to the new wristband – a process that takes an hour instead of up to eight weeks for a conventional DNA test.

“We’re not telling people they can’t eat biscuits, that they should eat grapes. No, they can eat biscuits, but eat the better biscuits based upon your DNA and lifestyle,” says Toumazou.

“It’s using biology to nudge and guide you to have a healthier lifestyle in the long term.”

What is the World Economic Forum doing about the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

The World Economic Forum was the first to draw the world’s attention to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the current period of unprecedented change driven by rapid technological advances. Policies, norms and regulations have not been able to keep up with the pace of innovation, creating a growing need to fill this gap.

The Forum established the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network in 2017 to ensure that new and emerging technologies will help—not harm—humanity in the future. Headquartered in San Francisco, the network launched centres in China, India and Japan in 2018 and is rapidly establishing locally-run Affiliate Centres in many countries around the world.

The global network is working closely with partners from government, business, academia and civil society to co-design and pilot agile frameworks for governing new and emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), autonomous vehicles, blockchain, data policy, digital trade, drones, internet of things (IoT), precision medicine and environmental innovations.

Learn more about the groundbreaking work that the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network is doing to prepare us for the future.

Want to help us shape the Fourth Industrial Revolution? Contact us to find out how you can become a member or partner.

Keep moving

The device also helps to promote overall health by warning if you are inactive for too long. An orange light means it’s time to get up and move about.

One in 10 people with pre-diabetes, a reversible condition, will go on to develop type 2 diabetes, which affects more than 400 million people worldwide. Early diagnosis can enable people to change their lifestyles and avoid developing the full-blown condition.

And what about Toumazou’s son Marcus? Well, his story has a happy ending. After months in dialysis he received a kidney transplant and is now in good health.

He even met the Queen at the opening of his father’s new lab in London. He told her his father was changing healthcare by making microchips for the human body.

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