When we think of ‘genetic testing’, images of futuristic robots, hospitals and unfriendly medical instruments might spring to mind. What very few people know is the extensive impact that your genetics have on your health. Heading up the campaign to change the often negative reputation of DNA and genetic testing is Abdullah Sabyah, the founder and CEO of Rightangled. Rightangled provide genetic testing for Heart and Fitness DNA, allowing people to take control of their healthcare. This genetic testing comes in the form of testing kits, which, once converted into results, are reviewed by a practitioner and uploaded to your very own unique online portal. The Sybarite sat down with Abdullah and Emily, part of the team behind Rightangled, to discuss the social impact of these advancements and the reasons to start your own bespoke health journey.
“It was 2015 at this point, and people shouldn’t be suffering, having to try five different drugs until they find one that works.” As with most companies, even those in science and tech, Rightangled’s story has fundamentally human beginnings. A relative of co-founder Florianne suffered five strokes and a string of negative side effects from various medication. In light of this, and having studied genomics, co-founder Abdullah was aware of the effect that DNA has on drug response, diet and fitness, along with the extent that your genetics are pre-disposed to certain conditions. He knew that there must be a way to personalise care to prevent these situations from happening, and to make this process more mainstream and accessible.
From this initial idea came Rightangled, and the Heart DNA test. What their test offers, simply, is a chance to have your DNA tested via saliva swab and assessed by ISO (International Standards Organisation) accredited labs in order to inform you on which medicines will be effective for you, as well as identifying your genetic risk of developing cardiac conditions. Then, through research carried out for the Heart DNA Test and studying elite athletes, Abdullah began to look into fitness in relation to DNA, resulting in the development of a second test, the Fitness DNA Test. “Your genetics determine whether you’re more responsive to power or endurance exercise, whether you’re sensitive to caffeine, alcohol, saturated fats and carbohydrates, which in turn determines what kind of diet you should be eating” explains Abdullah.
So what makes Rightangled different to other genetic testing kits? “There’s this huge barrier for DNA testing in that people believe that it increases customer anxiety – and that’s what we’re trying to move away from here. We provide continuous and thorough aftercare so that no one feels alone if they receive their results back and find out that they are at a high risk of something.” The team at Rightangled firmly believe that without providing continuous aftercare, the process is actually at risk of being harmful, something that sets them apart from their competitors. As part of their aftercare, Rightangled are developing their own online platform: “We are aiming to build a community where you will have access to experts and professionals, as well as other people who have taken the test” Emily explains. “There’s so much information to sift through across the internet, and most of it is opinion-based; it can be overwhelming. We wanted to build a reliable community full of experts.”
“All of the Heart DNA Tests are reviewed by registered cardiologists, and the Fitness Tests are reviewed by fitness professionals such as personal trainers, all with qualifications in nutrition. They will look at your results and give you a tailored action plan; say your results reflected that you were very susceptible to type 2 diabetes, they would then come back to you with a tailored nutrition plan and exercise plan on how you can go about reducing this risk.” You can then discuss your results over the phone or book appointments with these practitioners in person; their knowledge of your genetic test allowing them to assess and treat you far more effectively. On top of this, patients complete a lifestyle questionnaire before taking the test, allowing the healthcare professionals to acknowledge these factors before putting together your very own lifestyle plan. “For example, a busy mum would not be recommended to start a strict diet and intense gym routine when it’s obvious that she wouldn’t have time to make these changes” explains Emily.
The social impact that Rightangled aim to inspire is clear. “Our online community aims to get people talking and gives you access to real experts and people in similar situations, which really is invaluable support. If we can get people talking about DNA and their health more, we can inspire others to be more open about talking about their health” Emily tells me. Furthermore, the message Rightangled is making loans itself well to the rising body positivity movement, as it spreads the message of doing what’s fundamentally right for your health and your body, rather than what people we know or see in the media are doing. Abdullah explains “We didn’t want to make something that’s just trendy. We always tend to deliver something of value, whether that’s the content of the reports, whether it’s through the services, whether through the aftercare; it’s really about being people of value.”
Having found a new market for genetic testing that extends beyond just those who are health-conscious to athletes, young people and many other customers, what is next for Rightangled? “Our goal is to get this service within the NHS health check to provide our solution to NHS practitioners to use” Abdullah explains. “It’s really about the platform and how we can democratise genetic information to be accessible within any situation. It’s a solution for everyone.”