May is No Tobacco Month and DNAlysis has the tools you need to quit smoking – for good this time!

When smokers consider their decision to quit their habit, a common motivating question is, “how much money would I save if I did not need to buy x amount of boxes of cigarettes a day?” or “how many years does each cigarette take off of my life expectancy?” Did you know that not only does smoking damage your organs, but it damages your DNA too? Furthermore, the key to successfully leaving behind nicotine habits could lie within your DNA.

“There is a particular gene that is involved in the brain’s reward system which can help a person quit smoking successfully, depending on which variant of the gene they have,” said Dr Danny Meyersfeld, CEO of DNAlysis Biotechnology. “Smokers with the DRD2 A2/A2 genotype are three times more likely to be abstinent from cigarettes at the end of treatment than non-carriers of this genotype.”

The DRD2 gene helps the brain recognise dopamine which is the neurotransmitter that recognises pleasure and happiness. Addictive substances cause the dopamine in a person’s brain to spike and therefore the brain internalises that the substance must be a good thing, even if the rest of the body disagrees. The brain then signals to the body that it needs more of the dopamine-spiking substances and hence an addiction is developed. This principle is how smokers develop their addictions.

Researchers from Zhejiang University School of Medicine in China conducted a number of studies where they tested a large quantity of current and past smoker’s DNA. They found that 62.5% of the ex-smokers had the DNA variant A2/A2 of the DRD2 gene and had been successful when quitting smoking. The remaining participants did not have this gene variant and their treatment had not proved as successful. “By being able to specify which genes are responsible for addiction, we can help personalise treatments to patients and increase the success rate of beating addiction,” said Dr Meyersfeld. “This model can extend to helping drug addicts too.”

Even if a patient tests negative for the A2/A2 gene variant, it should not discourage them from quitting smoking. “Within 20 minutes of not smoking, the body already begins to heal itself from the nicotine in their system, and your heart begins to work better,” said Dr Meyersfeld. “The body is an amazing organism and we should give it more credit.”

If you and your clinician are looking for answers which lie within your DNA, get in touch with us

How DNA testing can effectively help prevent malaria

In December last year, there was a severe Malaria outbreak in South Africa, specifically in provinces such as Limpopo and Mpumalanga, where cases of cerebral malaria were reported.

The South Africa National Travel Health Network mentioned their key prevention strategy included spraying houses within the infected areas with long-acting residual Insecticides. While this may be one way to prevent the disease from spreading inside houses, we all still need to be taking precautionary measures when in a high-risk area –  to prevent being bitten by the dangerous Anopheles mosquito.

Dr Danny Meyersfeld, CEO of DNAlysis Biotechnology said there are small steps that can be taken to prevent getting bitten.  These steps include wearing long pants and long sleeve shirts between sunset and sunrise, sleeping under a mosquito net and wearing effective mosquito repellents such as Peaceful Sleep or Tabard. However, logic dictates that prevention is always better than cure and with advancements in medicine, one can now take anti-malaria tablets as yet another measure to ensure you and your family are safe when in a high-risk zone.

While anti-malaria drugs are easily available to the public, they are renowned for the side effects that accompany them; with many a patient having their holidays destroyed after taking the medication. Depending on which medication one may choose, the side effects could present themselves in physical or mental form. Side effects can include drowsiness, stomach pains, nausea, headaches, depression, hallucinations and sun sensitivity, just to name a few. On top of this many malaria prevention medications are unsafe for pregnant women or children and can even decrease the efficiency of certain oral contraceptives.

When the medication can almost cause as much harm as the disease itself, what can we do to make this method safer for us?

With the new and exciting DNA testing technology available in South Africa, it is simple to find out the correct and safe dosage of malaria prevention medication for you and your family. The mygeneRx test is a non-intrusive test that allows you to find out invaluable information about your genes including what medications you can take to avoid experiencing side effects.

Dr Meyersfeld explained that every individual has a slight variation within our DNA. These variations cause us to metabolize medication differently. Because of these variations we all have the potential to react to different medications differently. A DNA swab, which can be completed with DNAlysis’s mygeneRx test, can help determine each specific gene and can therefore help you to find out which medications you should be taking and how much of these medications are healthy for your specific body. DNA testing can help determine which malaria prevention medications are safe for you depending on your gene variations. In this specific case, the gene that is tested is called CYP2C19 since it affects the way our body metabolizes Proguanil, a drug that is often found in anti-malaria medication.

What this breakthrough in both technology and modern medicine means is that you can now learn how to prevent malaria for you and your family effectively without having to worry about suffering the all too common side effects from the different medications. When travelling to high-risk areas, you can take malaria prevention medication in a dosage that has been tailored to suit your specific genetic requirements.

This life-changing test could not be more convenient. The test can be ordered online and can be completed from the comfort of your own home.

Your pill isn’t my pill

You’re feeling ill. You visit the doctor, pick up a script and head to the pharmacy to collect your meds. The person in front of you in the queue just came from the doctor too. And they have the same script. Once you’ve both taken your medication, you’ll feel an equal improvement, right? Wrong.

Due to slight genetic variations in your DNA, you might metabolise and process the medication you’re taking differently to the person in front you. The ingredients in the pills you’re taking might stay in your body for three hours longer. They may have much more serious side effects. Or they may have no effect whatsoever. You’d probably never know – except you’d never feel quite right, and could have chronic side effects while taking the medication.

But you should learn to live with the side effects, right? Wrong again, fortunately. Most patients put up with frustrating side effects, simply because they think they have to. But with a little more knowledge of their DNA, they could be working with their doctor to find a tailored solution with far higher likelihood of working. And to a large extent, leaving ineffective meds and unwanted side effects behind.

Distinct DNA difference

Molecular biologist and founder of DNAlysis Biotechnology, Dr Daniel Meyersfeld, believes most South Africans simply aren’t aware of the various ways their unique DNA affects the metabolism of medication.

“Many patients don’t respond to the first drug they’re prescribed in the course of treatment. A trial and error approach is frustrating and expensive, so why not use genetic information to streamline the process?” says Meyersfeld. “By conducting a simple genetic test, patients and doctors can now work towards enhancing the safety and efficacy of their treatment and avoiding unpleasant side effects.”

Warfarin – the way forward

Meyersfeld speaks specifically of Warfarin as a stellar example of prescription that should be tailored to the individual. Warfarin is the anticoagulant of choice for cardiovascular disease, thromboembolism and post-surgery applications. It’s one of the most commonly prescribed drugs.

But the window for improper dosage is very narrow. Too little and you may form clots in the future, too much and it can cause haemorrhaging. Without knowledge of the patient’s DNA, dosing is largely informed by what the doctor has in front of them at that time – patient history, weight, condition.

With genetic information on their side, Meyersfeld says, doctors could be prescribing far more accurate and personalised doses of Warfarin – and saving time and money in the process. The same applies for medications such as codeine-based painkillers and SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) used as anti-depressants.

Patients get personal

“Medicine is such a specialised science; most patients are wary to even have a conversation with their doctor about the option of changing their treatment. They take what they’re given and hope for the best,” explains Meyerfeld.

“But by harnessing the power of their genetic information, they can work with their doctor to find a better solution. It’s about using all the modern tools at our disposable for the best possible result.”

Getting started

Meyersfeld also explains how most South Africans are unaware they have access to affordable genetic testing.
“Genetic testing has always been viewed as invasive and astronomically expensive – out of reach for the average South African,” says Meyersfeld. “But the increasing demand for personalised medicine means these tests are no longer inaccessible. Pharmacogenomic testing can be done using a DNA sample taken from a cheek swab.”
mygeneRx, offered through DNAlysis Biotechnology, is a test kit that screens for a variety of medications and can be done completely at the patient’s discretion, in the privacy of their home. Once analysed, the patient will review the report with their doctor, to find out how they could be tailoring their medication for more effective and safe treatment.

Parents can have their children tested for genetic variations, to ensure any medication they’re prescribed – painkillers after having tonsils removed, for example – is actually working. Older patients who are prescribed chronic medications would also benefit hugely from discovering how their DNA affects the metabolism of medication in their body. This type of testing can reduce unwanted side effects and lead to an overall improvement in the quality of life, something particularly pertinent in the elderly population.

“The truth is; no two human beings are exactly alike. Your DNA is unique – and it’s the roadmap for how your body functions. It makes sense to harness the power of your genetics to inform healthcare. This is the age of personalised medicine, and it’s just beginning.”

Codeine: You could be putting your child at risk

Did you know that common medications such as Myprodol, Mybulen, Benylin C and Sinutab could harm you, your unborn baby and your child?

These medications have one thing in common – they all include a drug called Codeine; an opioid drug which is often compared to morphine and is used to treat mild to moderate pain. The drug itself does not treat the pain however, once the drug is metabolised by the body, it turns into morphine and it is this reaction that helps to treat the pain.

In recognition of Pregnancy Awareness week from 12-16 February, DNAlysis Biotechnology hoped to warn parents and expectant mothers about the effects Codeine could have on them and their children.

Dr Danny Meyersfeld, founder and CEO of DNAlysis Biotechnology said, “It is important to understand how your body metabolizes codeine in order to avoid experiencing overdose symptoms.” According to the Food and Drug Administration in the United States, side effects of codeine medication include trouble breathing, extreme drowsiness or lightheadedness. America, has, in fact, placed a blanket ban on the use of codeine in children in order to avoid any risk. Dr Meyersfeld said that while the US recognizes the risks of Codeine, many South Africans were still ingesting the drug without fully realising the effects it could have.

“Not everybody is at risk of experiencing overdose symptoms. Only those who carry a specific
genetic variant that makes them ultra-rapid metabolizers are at risk,” Dr Meyersfeld said.

He further explained what the ultra-rapid metabolizer gene variant is and how it works. “There is an enzyme in the liver which changes codeine into morphine once ingested. This enzyme is called Cytochrome Isoenzyme or otherwise recognized as CYP2D6. Individuals with a particular genetic variation on CYP2D6 are ultra-rapid metabolizers. This means that even with the correct amount of codeine, you may experience the symptoms associated with a morphine overdose.”

Dr Meyersfeld said the problem arises when pregnant or breastfeeding women have this enzyme. According to research conducted by the New Zealand Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority, opioid-based medications (Codeine) are absorbed into the breast milk and can, therefore, affect the baby. Since the adult dosage of codeine is much higher than the dosage a child should have, the child may become physically dependent on the drug and this could lead to them experiencing withdrawal symptoms or becoming dependant on the drug itself. Dr Meyersfeld said while there was a risk in some cases, patients were now empowered to ascertain whether their genetic make-up placed into a high or low-risk category.

DNAlysis Biotechnology provides medical practitioners and patients with the tools to improve and maintain health and wellness. One of the tests that is available to the public is mygeneRx, which will tell patients if they are at risk when absorbing medications such as Codeine. “These results can then be used to help guide physicians when prescribing codeine-based medications to you or your child in the future,” Meyersfeld said. “The benefits of using DNA testing for such purposes are huge. The primary benefit is to ensure that as a patient, you are taking the most suitable medication for any given condition at any given time.”

For more information on generic testing visit please contact us

SAFM Health Matters – Interview Clip

Dr Danny Meyersfeld discusses the new mygeneRx test from DNAlysis

Don’t take the risk! Take the mygeneRx™ DNA test: a life-saving first for South Africa

Officially, and unbeknown to most, the fourth most common cause of death in the USA is adverse drug reactions (ADRs) caused by pharmaceutical medicines; that is, more than 100 000 fatalities every year. In South Africa it is estimated that 6-8% of all hospital admissions are caused by ADRs.   Furthermore, clinical tests have proved that some of the biggest culprits are those drugs that are most routinely prescribed, such as Warfarin and Codeine. This places an enormous burden on an already stretched healthcare system and indicates a clear problem with the manner in which medications are prescribed.

Dr Danny Meyersfeld, CEO of DNAlysis Biotechnology in South Africa says, “Scientists are increasingly turning to DNA in their search for a way to avoid prescribing medications to patients that may cause dangerous physical or behavioural responses, and much of what has been learned through years of research is now ready for implementation in a clinical setting.”

Variation in our DNA, which is the blueprint for our individuality, has a significant impact on our response to medication.

Pharmacogenetics, the science of how genes affect responses to many commonly prescribed medicines, allows us to proactively participate in our treatment and may help your doctor make more informed treatment decisions. For you it means a once-in-a-lifetime test – which may help determine the right medication choice, and at a dose that’s right for you.

DNAlysis Biotechnology, a global leader in the field of personalised medicine, has developed a DNA test called mygeneRx™ that analyses 60 genetic variations within 20 genes, giving recommendations on the effectiveness and potential side effects of approximately 150 different prescription drugs. DNAlysis’ mygeneRx™ test focuses primarily on genes associated with drug responsiveness for cardiovascular disease, psychiatry and pain management.

Dr Meyersfeld also says that the mygeneRx™ test allows medical practitioners to more accurately determine the right drug and dosage for the patient and avoid any adverse responses. It will especially benefit individuals whose genetic profile puts them at risk of experiencing either treatment failure or an ADR from a given drug. It will also benefit patients requiring doses outside of the recommended range or those planning to start on a new medication.
As outlined by the American Medical Association, the benefits of a pharmacogenomics test are experienced on a number of levels:

  • For the patient – it may decrease the length of treatment time, eliminate a trial and error approach in finding an effective medication, minimise the effects of disease on the body through early detection, and ultimately save money.
  • For the physician – it may lead to a more successful treatment campaign by preventing the patient from suffering untoward side effects and improving drug efficacy, with better results and better patient quality of life.

But ultimately, it’s all about the patient.

There are in excess of 200 prescription medications that include FDA-endorsed genetic tests as part of their dosing guidelines. Thanks to DNAlysis, this state-of-the-art technology is now available in South Africa either directly through DNAlysis or through a network of medical practitioners.

Don’t take the risk – take the test!
To take the test, you may contact DNAlysis by e-mail: info@dnalysis.co.za, or phone them on (011) 268 0268.

Reducing Metabolic Syndrome Risk Using a Personalized Wellness Program

The most recent data suggest that between 22.9%4 and 25%5 of US adults between the ages of 18 and 65 (44 to 48 million individuals) meet the criteria for metabolic syndrome (Met S), with prevalence higher among females, and increasing significantly with age and body weight.

This study set out to ascertain the impact of a targeted, gene-based personalized wellness program on reducing employees’ future risk of metabolic syndrome. The study showed statistically significant trends in improved clinical outcomes and a large reduction in average health care costs per participant.


Gregory Steinberg, MB, BCh, Adam Scott, MBA, Joseph Honcz, MBA, Claire Spettell, PhD, and Susil Pradhan, MS, American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine

SA Practitioners leading the way

So says Dr Yael Joffe, nutrigenomics expert and member of the DNAlysis scientific advisory board.

Speaking at the DNAlysis year-end function, Yael shared her experiences of the international nutrigenomics and nutrigenetics conferences she has attended this year.  It is apparent that DNAlysis has developed and trained one of the largest practitioner networks in the world,  a credit to the thirst for knowledge and entrepreneurial spirit of our local practitioners.

We have also seen the rise of credible nutrigenomic organisations worldwide, such as the International Society for Nutrigenetics / Nutrigenomics (ISNN) and NuGo, that act as reliable sources of information and research for practitioners looking to grow their knowledge in this field.

The rise of nutrigenomics organisations and the gradual incorporation of this science into mainstream medicine will see an increased demand for knowledgeable, well-trained nutrigenomics practitioners. With the recent development by Yael of her online training course, the opportunity exists for local practitioners to stay ahead of the curve and to drive the movement towards a new era of expert nutrigenomics practitioners.

Disclosing genetic information results in greater changes in dietary intake.

A recent study by Daiva E. Nielsen and Ahmed El-Sohemy assessed the effect of genetic information in patient compliance with dietary intervention.  The findings demonstrated that disclosing genetic information for personalized nutrition results in greater changes in intake for some dietary components compared to general population-based dietary advice.


Nielsen DE, El-Sohemy A (2014) Disclosure of Genetic Information and Change in Dietary Intake: A Randomized Controlled Trial. PLoS ONE 9(11):e112665. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0112665

Coeliac disease – a severe gluten intolerance versus gluten sensitivity. What is real?

The literature suggests that FODMAPs (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols) and not gluten per se are the triggers of gastrointestinal symptoms in patients that fit most of the proposed non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) definitions. Interestingly, wheat, rye, and barley are food sources of FODMAPs and should be avoided in FODMAP sensitive individuals. Diagnosis of “NCGS” should only occur after coeliac disease, wheat allergies, and other inflammatory disorders have been ruled out, including sensitivity to non-gluten food constituents from wheat that can trigger gastrointestinal symptoms.


“Assessing of Celiac Disease and Nonceliac Gluten Sensitivity”
Ontiveras et al
Gastroenterology Research and Practice Volume 2015, Article ID 723954, 13 pages