Blood Test

Reporter: Paul Makin

Who we are is no longer a mystery because our DNA reveals all.Everybody has DNA in every cell and this is your genetic blueprint, but how many of you know that blueprint can sustain damage thanks to our lifestyle choices.

"Bad diet, being overweight, excessive alcohol intake, smoking all these things can cause DNA damage so there are factors we can control and there are factors we can't control". The good news is we can now find out how extensive our own DNA damage might be and do something about it.

After fifteen years of research the DNA damage test is out of the CSIRO's lab and into our lives. Three of our viewers, Ashley Hill, Cheryl Batic and Gerry Davy volunteered to be among the first in the world to have this DNA test. Gerry Davy says it all when he agreed to be part of this health test, "if you haven't got your health, what have you got? You've got nothing".

CSIRO scientist Dr Michael Fenech and his team came up with the "Genome Health Analysis", a blood test that reveals how many damaged DNA cells we have in our body. If it's low, we are in pretty good shape. If its high, it's a whole different story. 'If its high it predicts a higher risk for cancer ten to fifteen years down the track" says Dr Fenech.

Now an Adelaide company, Reach 100 is taking this Aussie first to the world, giving everyone a chance to turn back old man time and live to a hundred and beyond, disease free. Dr Tim Edwards from Reach 100 says "what this test does, it looks at the damage, the fragmentation, the errors that have occurred in your DNA over time and matches them to your peers, age, or sex group".

And this is where our friends Gerry, Cheryl and Ashley come in. The three had complete physical examinations under the care of Dr Jane Alderman with the Genome DNA blood test number one on the agenda. "Its really about personalising at a very fundamental cellular level" says Dr Alderman.

Thirty five year old Ashley Hill writes music for movies and admits he's hit a bum note when it comes to exercise.

Forty four year old Cheryl Batic is an active single mum who admits her size has been weighing on her mind.

Seventy four year old Gerry Davy walks three kilometres a day and plays an eighteen hole round of golf once a week. He wants to play another day and he knows more than anyone that life is precious. Having faced, fought and won his battle with prostate cancer. "If you've got all the money in the world, if you haven't got your health, goodbye Charlie," says Gerry.

The Genome damage is the damage which can occur at the time the cell divides, so that instead of the photo copy being accurate, its blurry. That blurry damaged DNA cell turns into diseases that kill us off before we reach a ripe old age and this sort of defect leads to accelerated ageing and a higher risk for cancer.

While the garden variety blood tests for our Today Tonight test pilots go off to Gribbles. Their three Genome blood tests are off to the CSIRO lab. The three blood samples were tested by stimulating the cells to divide and then suspending them. After they have stopped the cell from dividing, they can score the damage specifically in the cells.

After two weeks the results are in. Gerry has mid range damage, with Ashley getting the same score, but remember Ashley is thirty five, Gerry is seventy four. "Yeah that was a wake up call says Ashley, I really need to exercise more." Cheryl has quite high levels of DNA damage, but was it really a shock?

"To tell you the truth, not really," says Cheryl. "I had a feeling that I hadn't probably not looked after myself as good as I should have.... the results that I've got actually tell me that I am a prime candidate to get quite a few nasty conditions in my older age, possibly cancer." Cheryl's mother actually died of cancer six years ago.All three are on courses of Vitamin B Twelve and Folate in varying doses because these two micro-nutrients help create healthy DNA.

There will also be changes in diet, with lots more exercise for Cheryl and Ashley. All three patients have promised to stick rigidly to their new regime and micro-nutrients, giving them a real shot at the fountain of youth. We'll check on their progress in the New Year.

Contact Reach 100 call 8211 8033