Tap into your own DNA to make healthiest food choices
Cambridge brainpower is at the heart of world-first technology that helps consumers tap into their own DNA to make healthier food and drink choices and boost their own wellbeing.
Innovation hothouse TTP has joined forces with transformative business DnaNudge Ltd to help people make buying choices suited to their individual genetic make-up.
TTP’s Desktop Biology™ service has enabled the fast-track development of the disruptive service.
The DnaNudge experience can be delivered through a wearable device or a mobile app to enable an individual to choose between options from a specific product family (e.g. biscuits) resulting in a ‘nudge’ towards a healthier lifestyle.
A key enabler of this is the NudgeBox and DnaCartridge, which extracts and amplifies DNA from a customer cheek swab, providing an individual genetic report based on assessment of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs).
The genetic information is subsequently cross-referenced against a database that matches the nutritional values of manufactured food products with genetic characteristics.
TTP, in partnership with DnaNudge, played a key role in the development of the NudgeBox and DNA Cartridge from the initial market vision through to feasibility, prototyping and small-scale manufacture.
The NudgeBox enables a complex biological workflow and analysis to be undertaken in a consumer environment. TTP has manufactured an early run of instruments and has established a small-scale production line for cartridge assembly and biology integration, and is now working with DnaNudge to transfer to the high-volume manufacturing partners.
The TTP Desktop Biology team converted a genomic DNA extraction protocol and multiplex real-time PCR amplification into an elegant simple-to-use instrument and low-cost single-use cartridge.
The protocol required accurate control of a number of key factors to help ensure a high-quality result. The core lysis and solid phase DNA extraction protocol is integrated in the core of the cartridge and purified material passed to an array where 72 independent DNA amplification reactions are very carefully controlled and monitored to determine particular genetic variants that help guide nutrition (and in the future – other) purchasing decisions.
The development itself has engaged a team at TTP that extends from cloud communication expertise to biological assay development as well as system engineering, thermal control and optics and design to manufacture.
Dr Giles Sanders, xonsultant at TTP, said: “For the entire Desktop Biology team at TTP, it has been a highly exciting experience to be a core part of this first-to-consumer system.
“The progress we have made together since our initial discussions in early 2016 has been truly ground-breaking – the NudgeBox and DnaCartridge enable testing that would normally take hours in an off-site laboratory to be transferred directly to the consumer with near real-time results.
“The DnaNudge proposition and the ecosystem it now enables has a real opportunity to improve the life and wellbeing of all its users.”
Professor Chris Toumazou, co-founder and CEO at DnaNudge, added: “We initially approached TTP with our concept regarding personalised DNA testing.
“We were impressed by TTP’s Desktop Biology offering and saw an opportunity to accelerate the development of our technology and chemistry. TTP understands the fundamental steps required to convert lab-based biological processes to functional instruments.
“Working in partnership, we have been able to develop our product with TTP from concept to manufacture, which, together with our database, will enable consumers to make more informed and healthy food choices, leading to improved health outcomes.”