Prevention is so much cooler than cure
By: Iffah Salleh / December 13, 2022
Preventive Medicine is a medical specialty that creates preventive strategies to conserve and promote the wellness of individuals and communities. However, the public is still unaware of what preventive medicine is and why it is so important.
“Prevention is better than cure”, is the core pillar of healthcare. Nevertheless, preventative medicine is a more modern word for this concept. Where efforts are made not just to prevent physical, emotional, and psychological harm, but to also reduce unnecessary healthcare spending.
The rate of Preventive Medicine accounts for only 6.2% of overall health spending, which is still below acceptable levels at the industry level. This reflects the country’s predilection for curative rather than preventative care.
The frequency of Malaysians affected with Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) is concerning, and it is unfortunate that they are not being addressed seriously, as they may become problems as we mature.
Malaysia has the highest diabetes rates in Asia, while heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the country. These alarming numbers can be solved easily by Preventive Medicine.
We are humbled by the chance to interview Stefanie Chow, Chief Executive Officer of SuperDNA, concerning the need for a deeper understanding of and the availability of preventive medicine in Malaysia. The outcomes of the test can guide and strengthen our physical and mental wellness.
Getting To Know Stefanie Chow
Could you shed some light on your field of expertise in the industry and the challenges you faced before the formation of SuperDNA?
I am the Chief Executive Officer at SuperDNA (CEO), I received a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Biological Sciences from Monash University Malaysia. Prior to creating SuperDNA, we saw that many companies that currently offer genetic tests employ a limited number of genetic variations or small gene panel testing to make predictions about a specific area of health, provide information about common traits, and provide ancestral hints.
As a result, illness-causing variations may be ignored, and people may make critical decisions about disease treatment or prevention based on such restricted knowledge. My colleagues and I believe that there is a better approach to identifying and predicting illness risk, which is where SuperDNA was born.
We sought to integrate Whole Genome Sequencing with our unique variant identification programme, and we built our own database with over one million data points to identify genetic risk and, as a consequence, offer more accurate and complete test results. Even complicated features, such as predisposition to cancer and rare disorders, can now be reported using our proprietary technology.
How May SuperDNA Help Save A Life?
Regardless of how each of us appears and thinks, pursues a different lifestyle, and speaks a different language, 99.9% of our genetic makeup is the same. However, the remaining 0.1%, or nearly three million base pairs, distinguishes us all, especially in terms of health risks.
At SuperDNA, we believe that our genetic information contains the key to enhancing our lives. Our goal is to provide people with this vital genetic insight so that they can make the right daily decisions that will allow them to live longer, healthier, and better lives.
Let’s Talk About SuperDNA
What was the inspiration behind SuperDNA, and what were some of the gaps that your team was trying to bridge?
There are many people who say “I don’t need it” or “I don’t want to know” because they think genetic testing is like a paternity test. However, genetic technology has evolved to be much more than that, and SuperDNA aims to raise awareness about the importance of genetic testing for all.
At SuperDNA, we want to be our client’s lifetime partners in preventive medicine. We make it easy for our clients to get started in their personal genomics journey, all they need to do is provide 2ml of a saliva sample, which enables us to sequence 100% of their DNA using Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) technology.
Through deep collaborations with academics, clinicians, and patient advocacy groups, we interpret the results with evidence-based scientific research. With our highly actionable reports, post-test counseling by healthcare professionals, and lifetime updates from knowledge databases, we empower our clients to make informed decisions on their health and family planning with life-changing impacts.
What sets SuperDNA apart from other genetic testing companies?
SuperDNA is the first brand in Malaysia and the only one to offer professional-grade, Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS)-based genetic testing directly to consumers. WGS is the most advanced genetic test, sequencing 100% of human DNA and capable of detecting all potential rare genetic variants.
In fact, we are the only WGS product provided directly to Malaysians. Our whole team of scientists and health specialists who created the SuperDNA product line is Malaysian.
Malaysians can access their SuperDNA results on our website and request a paper copy. We make it simple for Malaysians to get their results at any time and from any location.
Moreover, we offer free health coach consultations and genetic counseling to clients, either in person or online, so that people may learn about and comprehend their genetic reports in the most comfortable and convenient environment for them.
How can SuperDNA Influence Our Health?
Mental health being among the most discussed topics throughout the past two years, how can SuperDNA results propel Malaysian physical (and mental) health and resilience?
Our team designed the SuperDNA report so that people with limited genetic knowledge could better perceive and understand themselves. Such as how to maximize your food and nutrition, skin profile, pharmacogenetics (your drug reaction), malignancies, and diseases.
We offer a section on Brain and Mental Health in our Complete and Ultimate DNA tests where we focus on and detect 36 different types of mental health-related risks, including but not limited to anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, panic disorder, and schizophrenia.
SuperDNA reports not only pinpoint the mental health risk that a person may inherit, but they also contain useful insight, such as signs and symptoms that people at high risk should be aware of.
SuperDNA offers three tests kit: the Essential DNA test (RM699), the Complete DNA DNA test (RM2,499), and the Ultimate DNA test (RM4,999). Each test includes a Personality part that determines whether an individual has genetically linked behavioural issues such as rage, borderline personality disorder, hoarding, and others.
Prevention Is Better Than Cure
As Malaysians, we are often told that we should not be concerned about our health because we are young, or that it is a waste of money. How can SuperDNA help to influence people’s minds?
SuperDNA is teaming with a variety of healthcare industry participants, including health practitioners, pharmaceutical providers, and researchers, to create and deliver various sorts of educational programmes emphasising the need for early prevention. It will not be an easy trip, but we believe that with the support of numerous stakeholders, the perception can be transformed.
We intend to offer live monthly webinars and health-related talks with various health professionals throughout the next year for the benefit of Malaysians. We are also actively promoting curated health and wellness subjects on our social media platforms in order to engage with our followers, both young and old.
What are SuperDNA’s future expansion plans? For example, perhaps collaborate with the government or non-governmental organisations to help reduce the number of NCDs in Malaysia.
SuperDNA is now pursuing collaboration opportunities with a number of governmental and non-governmental organisations in order to create a robust digital healthcare ecosystem that will allow users to access preventative health and precision medicine-related services and facilities. SuperDNA will provide a range of package offerings of genetic testing and other health testing in the near future to provide our clients with a more holistic experience in their health journey and more options for their next steps following genetic testing.