DermaDNA, a system that measures an individual's DNA damage resulting from UV radiation and recommends a skin care regime accordingly, has been launched in Canada.
The skincare system results from a collaboration between Genesis Genomics, a manufacturer of genetic tests for cancer and other diseases, and Dermaglow, a Canadian based skin care company.
DermaDNA consists of a DNA test and a skincare product range that has been designed to prevent and promote the repair of DNA damage.
Susceptibility to sun damage
The genetic test is based on investigating individuals' Mc1R (the melanocyte stimulating hormone receptor) profiles.
Mc1R is known to play a key role in regulating skin and hair color and dermatologists have long looked at these characteristics when estimating an individual's susceptibility to sun damage and cancer.
However, according to recent research the Mc1R may affect an individual's risk of suffering from skin cancer in ways that are independent of skin tone and hair color, therefore prompting the testing of the gene itself rather than relying simply on its phenotypic effects.
Testing an individual's genotype in this way is significantly more accurate than the current method used to identify an individual's susceptibility to skin damage, Professor Mark Birch-Machin, dermatology scientist and one of the founders of Genesis Genomics told CosmeticsDesign.com.
The current method, the Fitzpatrick scale, relies on an assessment of a person's hair and skin color and places individuals along a 1-6 scale of susceptibility. The DermaDNA test will be particularly useful in picking up misclassified Fitzpatrick cases, said Birch-Machin.
In addition the company hopes that with greater numbers of consumers taking the test from increasingly diverse geographical regions the test will become more sophisticated.
Current DNA damage
As well as a cheek swab from which the laboratory profiles the individual's susceptibility to sun damage, consumers will also be asked to provide a sample of nose skin from which the current level of UV-induced DNA damage can be estimated.
"Mitochondrial DNA is used to test for UV-induced damage as it cannot repair damage and therefore provides a diary of sun exposure" explained Birch-Machin.
The laboratory results will be used to create a personalised skin care regime using Dermglow's products best suited to the individual's susceptibility to sun damage and their current levels of DNA damage.
Sun damage not skin cancer risk
Birch-Machin is quick to highlight that the company does not make claims regarding an individual's susceptibility to skin cancer.
"Each of the variants we look at come with an associated risk factor in terms of development of skin cancer but it is very difficult to link these risks together," he said.
One of the most common criticisms of this type of so-called 'at-home' DNA tests is that consumers may not have the psychological support necessary to interpret the results.
Commenting on another consumer protection issue Birch-Machin said that the DNA samples will be bar coded and treated anonymously in the laboratory, and destroyed after analysis, therefore eliminating any genetic identity protection issues.
Although DermaDNA is currently only available in Canada a US roll out is planned later in the year.