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Who wants to live forever?

Once the realm of science fiction, geneticists can now map out our future - in the knowledge that being forewarned is forearmed

Ask anyone what they would wish for most in the world and in all likelihood, they would say a healthy and long life.

A city worker who may work long hours for a high bonus would readily forego the latest Ferrari for 10 more years on the planet, and any parent would say their dream is to live long enough for a cuddle with their great-grandchildren. And yet, until recently, all any of us could do was to try and maintain a healthy lifestyle and simply hope for the best.

Now one London-based medical company is offering their clients the chance to take more control over their future health, thanks to sophisticated DNA decoding. Many of us will have seen adverts for on-line or shop-bought DNA testing, promising to discover our future health, food allergies and even which part of the world our ancestors lived in.

But for an entirely full and informed picture of your future health, Elite Medicine, based in London’s Harley Street, is leading the way.

The team comprising founders, Professor Phil Beales, Doctor Chiara Bacchelli and Professor Nick Lench are some of the world’s leading experts in genetic profiling.

Beales explained: “There is a huge difference between what we offer here at Elite Medicine and some of the other postal and on-line services for DNA testing. “The most well-known brands only test a tiny fraction (0.02% to be precise) of the genetic markers we look at. Instead, we study and analyse three billion bases of DNA stretching across all our 22,000 genes.

This information can provide valuable insights in to how one might respond to hundreds of medicines as well as an individual’s disease risk. Armed with this information we work closely with the client to help keep their health in check.

“Our service offers the most comprehensive guide to our clients’ health. We offer an on-going health partnership working with health and lifestyle professionals.”

But of course with genetic testing comes the risk that the profiling can show up a likelihood of developing illnesses such as heart disease or certain types of cancer. The test can also analyse the genes for breast and ovarian cancer (BRCA1/BRCA2) that Angelina Jolie famously underwent, going on to take preventative measures.

Professor Beales added: “It is vital that any clients deciding to undergo the test are aware and informed. We take very seriously the consultations and counselling we offer both before the test is done and when the results come back in. I need to be sure that clients are both aware and prepared to cope with their results. It is very rare that we have had to give clients bad news but it is possible.

“Prior to the test we spend a great deal of time talking and taking detailed medical histories. When the results come back we discuss the results in detail and provide a comprehensive report that they can share with their doctor or any healthcare provider.

“It’s possible that with earlier medical intervention, regular medical tests and the knowledge of how they will respond to certain medicines, some diseases can be averted altogether. And making certain lifestyle changes is one of the most simple, yet empowering routes a client can go down.

“However there are some diseases that could be carried by a parent and passed on to their children that clients should be aware of, like the cystic fibrosis gene. We often consult with couples here at Elite Medicine who want to start a family and want to know if there are any risks posed by passing on, or combining, their genes. Often they are reassured by the results.”

“With the rapid pace of advancement in genetic therapies it is our mission to provide the most accurate and evidence-based information for our clients. It truly can make a real difference and it’s a privilege to be able to work with individuals to help them lead longer healthy lives.” said Dr Bacchelli.

The Elite Medicine team. From left: Phil Beales; Nick Lench; Chiara Bacchelli

How DNA testing at Elite Medicine works

DNA contains all the information that makes us unique. From our DNA Elite Medicine can reveal your risk of developing certain diseases and your response to certain medicines.

Following a blood sample or mouth swab, from your DNA, your personal genome will be comprehensively evaluated to compile a onetime catalogue of your genetic blueprint. The report will identify key genetic markers linked to life changing conditions.

Key health indicators will be used to guide the most appropriate health assessment for you, taking in to account your medical and family history.

Using these genetically enhanced health data Elite Medicine can recommend any further diagnostic tests that may be required. Based on your health assessment and genome information Elite Medicine will tailor a personalised healthcare plan to your needs.

Importantly it will also offer clear evidence based information in a face-to-face session with a doctor. The report will also provide a comprehensive guide of an individual’s drug responses for commonly prescribed drugs ensuring your doctors are aware of what will work best for their patient.

The personal report is for life. As part of your Elite membership, the company continues to partner with clients and offers reassessment and refreshment of healthcare plans when needed.

DNA FACTS

  • Every human being shares 99% of their DNA or genome with every other human
  • Genes are the functional unit of DNA and code for all our physical characteristics, growth and development
  • Each human has roughly twenty two thousand genes in their genome
  • We pass on 50% of our genome to our children
  • If you put all the DNA molecules in your body end to end, the DNA would reach from the Earth to the Sun and back over 600 times
  • Human DNA is 98% identical to the DNA of chimpanzees and 50% identical to the DNA of bananas!

A new client ’s experience

By Charles Johnson

I’ll admit I almost cancelled my appointment with Elite Medicine where my results would be revealed. Did I really want to know my medical future?

But 90 minutes later I emerged out of Elite Medicine’s doors onto Harley Street, armed with my personal report and a determination to lead a healthier life.

I’d not received any drastically bad news but there were some elements I should be aware of as I age and some markers that mean I should continue to have regular health checks.

The whole process of the testing had been remarkably easy – and I found the knowledge I gained both before the test and after it, truly fascinating. The doctors take huge care to ensure they have a full history and discuss any elements of your health that you find worrisome.

It is nerve wracking going to get your results yes, but in my mind it is always so much better to be forewarned.

Knowledge is, as they say, power.