DNA Testing


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Angelina Jolie and Australian mum Krystal Barter have never met but all of a sudden they've got a lot in common.

Krystal's family had a history of an aggressive form of breast cancer. Her DNA showed she carried the same gene fault as Angelina. Even though she may never have got breast cancer, Krystal made the same drastic decision to have a double mastectomy. She supports the idea of DNA tests and today runs a charity called Pink Hope, a breast and ovarian cancer support group.

“I just think if there's an option to find out if you carry a gene fault or there's something that can do one about it then it's a win win situation. “ Said Krystal

So what does your future hold? Could you fall victim of Cancer, Alzheimer's , Heart disease or go blind.

You could find the answers for 100 dollars.

Tonight I'm less a reporter more a guineapig as I find out my likely fate.

This is not saying you have cancer, this is not saying you have Arthritis , this is just saying it's in your DNA.

Professor Kris Barlow Stewart thinks you should be very careful who you show these results to.

We purchased two do it yourself DNA test kits both claiming to unlock my DNA profile with a sample of my saliva. The packages were sent for processing in America and take up to three months to get the results.

Sydney University Professor of Genetics - Kris Barlow Stewart is the leading authority on gene research in Australia - spending the past three decades studying DNA technology.

“What reservations if any do you have about the technology? Said David

“ I'm concerned people will take this information that they are given that that is all that is important in determining for their future health when it's only a small part of will impact on people's health because the environment in some cases is even more important than the genetic information. “ Said Professor Barlow Stewart

We've travelled to Los Angeles where the DNA profiles of hundreds of clients are being determined in this laboratory. Scanning for 125 diseases, like heart and lung disease, breast cancer / obesity and psoriasis.

Doctor Alex Martin is from the Metro MD Institute of Medicine says you can alter your outcome, your destiny from what you eat it's a very exciting time because it's a journey of exploration

Do you think there are people out there that just don’t want to know? Said David

Exactly members of my own family for example of why would I want to know, why would I want to know if I'm going to have breast cancer or other forms of cancer and my response to this why wouldn't you want to know so you can take precautions against it.

“I just got the results in today for the first time and do you want to go over them and see what is in your DNA?”

“Well that all depends on how good the news is?” Said David

“Well there's good news and bad news so let's look at it and find it.” Said Dr Alex Martin

Devin Stone is Director of Operations at Metro MD in Hollywood. He says your number one risk as you can see here is age related macular degeneration which is your eyes, your eyes start to degenerate over time.

“According to my DNA profile, I'm 73 percent more likely than the average person to go blind. And this is consistent with my family tree as my mother suffered from this condition. “ Said Devin

“It shows that you're 73 percent more likely but not 73 percent going to happen and there still could be zero percent chance that this ever happen in your whole life.

If history repeats , I'll suffer a heart attack as my grandfather died of one at age 66and my father has already survived one when he was in his 50's, so it's a red flag for our family.” Said Devin

“It shows your coronary heart disease,you have absolutely no different risk to anybody else out there. “ Said Dr Alex Martin

“So I’ve got a good heart?” Said David

“You've got a very good heart .” Said Dr Martin

My results show I'm an average chance for prostate cancer, little risk for diabetes, colon cancer and Chronis disease dementia and arthritis.

But when it came to the second DNA test kit we put the test there were some very different interpretations. According to smart DNA I'm not at risk of suffering from macular degeneration but I am a 60 percent chance of getting dementia and heart disease which is contrary to the first lab results. Same DNA, very different potential risk which highlight Professor Barlow Stewart's belief that DNA understanding is still in its infancy.

Because we are still learning how to interpret it, different company's different scientists will make a different call on what that particular change in your DNA means.

In 1997 futuristic film GATTACA your DNA profile determined whether you would succeed. That proposition was confirmed by a research project conducted by Sydney University in which DNA results have been used in Australia to discriminate against job applicants.

A woman claims she was told not to continue in her job application for the Public Service after her DNA profile revealed she was prone to bowel cancer.

In the second example the DNA results proved to be beneficial for the job applicant for the Armed Forces, who got the green light after the DNA tests showed he didn’t have Marfan Sydnrome which can affect heart and lung health.

DNA results confirming he didn't have a genetic mutation for connective tissue disorder called Marfan syndrome.

We certainly do know from the work that we've done that employers would be interested in these tests in the future and if we're talking about the future that's where we need to be concerned.

As it stands insurers are not allowed to ask a customer to take a DNA test before they cover them, but if you've had one, you do need to disclose this information. For Civil Libertarian Cameron Murphy the major concern is now the kits are becoming more affordable, it won't be long before companies expect it as part of your resume.

I'm very worried we are on a very slippery slope, that in the future you could have all sorts of people discriminating against you because of your DNA.