The Canadian dietary supplement and nutrition company, which started ramping up efforts for distribution and brand awareness in the US around 18 months ago, announced the DNA test kit launch at the Natural Products Expo West show earlier this month.
The product is slated to be ready for consumers to purchase by May of this year, according to the company.
“MyBlueprint looks at 85 of the key gene variations that are associated with health conditions and disease,” Dr Traj Nibber, founder, CEO, and director of research at AOR, told NutraIngredients-USA at the show. “There are so many genes, one of the challenges is how do you associate which gene with what health condition. In other words, there is so much noise.”
‘Retail-ready’ DNA Kits are booming
To develop the testing kit, AOR, which has been around for 20 years, partnered with fellow Canadian company DNA Labs.
“Typically, most DNA test kits are designed for the physician,” Dr Nibber said.
“This is designed for the retailer or a physician or naturopath that can offer it to a consumer. The customer takes it [using] an easy cheek swab, sends it off themselves, then they get their results through an e-portal,” he added.
In 2013, around 330,000 Americans had their DNA tested. This number jumped to 12 million by 2017, according to a report by the MIT Technology Review.
Ancestry, as opposed to health care, makes up the bulk of DNA testing kit sales and positioning.
Companies are spending millions of dollars in advertising DNA kits. Data from Kantar Media, an advertising research firm, revealed that the two largest DNA testing companies, Ancestry.com and 23andMe, spent $32 million and $11.5 million respectively in advertising for the first three quarters of 2018.
This in turn has increased overall awareness around DNA test, and healthcare-positioned DNA testing companies are following suit. TeloYears and Helix, two health-focused DNA companies, are among the five biggest advertisers in the DNA test kit space, according to Kantar Media’s latest data.
Will more supplement companies launch at-home test kits?
Results from an AOR MyBlueprint test will help inform consumers about recommended diets and what increased risks his or her genetic variants suggest, such as an increased risk of obesity or diabetes.
It can also provide information on exercise amd specific nutrient needs, which is how the DNA test kit finds a place within AOR’s portfolio of products.
While there are many start-ups that have launched at-home testing kits as their flagship product, like Baze and InsightTracker, AOR is one of few supplement companies launching its own branded at-home test kits. Another more established supplement company to get into the at-home testing kit space is Thorne Research, which launched GutBio earlier this year and a handful of tests, ranging from thyroid to heavy metal level tests, last year.
Dr Nibber characterized the current landscape of research regarding the link between nutrition and genetic variants as having made “significant steps forward towards personalized nutrition, which is the holy grail, but still in its infancy.”