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NudgeBox guides better food choices for your DNA

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The TTP team helping / Desktop Biology DnaNudge, seen here at TTP Melbourn. Picture: Keith Heppell. (21563226)
The TTP team helping / Desktop Biology DnaNudge, seen here at TTP Melbourn. Picture: Keith Heppell. (21563226)

A DNA profiling system which allows you to establish your dietary and nutritional needs is now in use at a Covent Garden retailer, thanks to Melbourn-based TTP’s research for client DnaNudge.

The profiling system has been developed under TTP’s desktop biology offering in a partnership with DnaNudge that spans more than three years. The result is the NudgeBox, which enables a complex biological workflow and analysis to be undertaken in a consumer environment.

“You put the desktop biology box in the shop and do a swab of the customer’s cheek,” said TTP consultant Dr Giles Sanders. “You put the swab into a cartridge, then you put the cartridge into the box where the sample is subjected to multiple biological steps before completing around 70 evaluations. It takes about an hour – if it was sent off for analysis it would take two or three weeks.

“The DnaNudge proposition and the ecosystem it now enables has a real opportunity to improve the life and wellbeing of all its users.”

The “nudge” comes when the consumer receives personalised product recommendations suited to their individual genetic make-up, delivered through a wearable band or a mobile app, to enable them to choose between options from a specific product family (eg biscuits), resulting in a “nudge” towards a heathier lifestyle.

The TTP desktop biology team converted a genomic DNA extraction protocol and multiplex real-time PCR amplification into the elegant simple-to-use instrument and low-cost single-use cartridge. Working with DnaNudge, TTP played a key role in the development of the NudgeBox and DNA cartridge from the initial market vision through to feasibility, prototyping and small-scale manufacture.

Desktop Biology DnaNudge, seen here at TTP Melbourn. Picture: Keith Heppell. (21563211)
Desktop Biology DnaNudge, seen here at TTP Melbourn. Picture: Keith Heppell. (21563211)

“The evaluation is to look for polymorphism in your DNA,” adds Dr Sanders. “A single base difference can influence your ability to metabolise anything from salt, to coffee, to fat. The DnaNudge experience will tell you what to eat or not to eat: it could even say for a packet of crisps which would be more suitable for your profile.”

Professor Chris Toumazou, co-founder and CEO at DnaNudge, said: “We initially approached TTP with our concept regarding personalised DNA testing. We were impressed by TTP’s desktop biology offering and saw an opportunity to accelerate the development of our technology and chemistry. TTP understands the fundamental steps required to convert lab-based biological processes to functional instruments. Working in partnership, we have been able to develop our product with TTP from concept to manufacture which, together with our database, will enable consumers to make more informed and healthy food choices, leading to improved health outcomes.”

“As a defined proposition it’s unique,” adds Dr Sanders. “Other companies have taken complex biology and put it into single-use components but at TTP we’ve worked out how to do it in a very fast manner and at low cost.”

The in-shop experience costs £40, with a wearable band priced at a further £80.

“We have a genetic propensity for different sorts of foods,” concludes Dr Sanders. By pre-anticipating markets, we’re developing techniques which some people will be interested in in the future. It’s always good to see a product go on sale. We take pride that our success is our client’s success and this is just the start. There will be more DnaNudge outlets using this technology due soon.”

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