Published on January 16, 2008
So far, though, the prices could send your temperature soaring.Wouldn't it be good if you could get your hands on the personal blueprint of your body, telling you how it works, what diseases it is prone to and how it responds to certain medicines? It would be a guide to lifestyle choices to keep you healthy and an end to wasting money, or even risking your life, on medications that don't work for your ailments.
Prevention is better than cure, goes the age-old advice, and so far that's meant getting regular check-ups. But now medical science is offering the next step - a genetic screening service.
"Just as a house comes with its own blueprint, genetic screening allows a person to have a blueprint of their body," says Dr Pakpilai Thavisin, president and founder of S Medical Spa.
While a DNA test merely provides matches of gene profiles between members of the same family, genetic screening tests for around 30 marker genes, each one indicating a risk of developing a certain disease. Environment or lifestyle may affect or cause illnesses, says Pakpilai, but the inherited defective genes play a part in health and disease later in life.
The genetic screening service recently introduced at his spa involves taking a simple swab of saliva from the inside of your cheek, which is then sent off to the lab. The results come back in a month. They can tell if you are facing a higher risk of developing diseases like Alzheimer's, breast or ovarian cancer, and haemophilias A and B. The test results can also be used to clarify a medical diagnosis and suggest appropriate treatments.
"Why does one person face higher risks of developing diabetes or breast cancer than another?" asks Dr Viwat Chinpilas of BNH Hospital, going on to explain how each person's gene profile governs their susceptibility. Even identical twins don't share an identical profile.
Viwat adds that gene screening is still a very new technology in the medical industry, and though the price is high - Bt100,000 and more - it's worth paying for those who can afford it.
Previously, genetic screening was limited to official uses like identifying suspects in crime cases, or for the occasional hospital patient, says Pakpilai.
Those who can afford the service at the moment tend to be older people, says Viwat. But working people, he suggests, could greatly benefit from a blueprint indicating what lifestyle they need to cultivate, and what choices to avoid. When it comes to genetic testing, he adds, the younger the better. "The earlier you know your own details, the better you can lead your life."