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Tokyo firm to launch DNA testing service for cancer, other conditions

by Kazuaki Nagata

Staff Writer

Mobile video game provider DeNA Co. said Wednesday it will launch a DNA testing service in mid-August in partnership with a unit at a leading research laboratory.

Called Mycode, the service offers to reveal genetic markers for up to 283 different conditions, including predispositions to 40 types of cancer. It also screens for 25 so-called lifestyle conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease.

Three tests will be available. One that checks for all 283 conditions will cost ¥29,800. A check for 100 conditions is priced at ¥19,800, while a basic test for 35 tendencies, such as obesity and skin type, costs ¥9,800.

Clients register on a website and receive a test kit in the mail. They return it with a sample of their saliva for analysis at a lab at the University of Tokyo’s Institute of Medical Science that DeNA is partnering with.

The presence of certain genetic markers will allow scientists to estimate the probability of conditions developing in an individual’s lifetime. They will compare the results with data from 400 academic papers in a genome database that DeNA and the University of Tokyo have been jointly creating.

Customers can check the results online a week or two later. They will be delivered with tips on diet and exercise, said Masatoshi Fukasawa, CEO of DeNA Life Science Inc., a DeNA subsidiary.

“The purpose of this service is to help customers stay healthy and prevent disease,” Fukasawa said. “We’ll be preparing content that motivates customers take action as much as possible.”

In a demonstration, the company showed that one individual’s DNA might reveal a risk of liver cancer, for instance, expressed as a probability 1.46 greater than the national average. The company showed the academic research on which its conclusion was based, and relayed lifestyle advice for the hypothetical customer.

Fukusawa said protecting the privacy of client data will be a “top priority.”