Danny Yeung of Circle DNA: Genetic testing can help prevent and reduce health concerns – Prestige Online

Posted: October 4, 2020 at 2:04 pm

Wouldnt it be great to know the optimal diet that successfully makes you lose weight? Or understand your skins natural ability to combat wrinkles and be able to strengthen that ability? Or even better, detect that you have a high risk of cancer and be able to prevent rather than treat it?

The good news you can do all these things and more all it takes is a simple saliva swab.

Were talking aboutCircle DNA, the worlds most comprehensive DNA test that delivers over 500 personalised reports on categories such as disease risk, food sensitivity, and even your personality and behavioural traits. Its backed by Chinese stars G.E.M., Gigi Leung, and Vanness Wu, and it might just be the health and wellness solution of the future.

We decided to delve a little deeper and met up with CEO and Co-founder Danny Yeung to find out more. Read on to discover how he started, what it takes to be in the genetic-testing industry and most importantly, does it actually work?

Circle DNA is was started out in 2014 as a university spin-off, by team of professors focused in genetics and clinical research. The team of 150 consists of scientists, engineers, genetic counsellors, health coaches and more; and we have officesin London, Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Johannesburg, and more.

With a simple saliva sample you can uncover different things about yourself your genetic blueprint. Things like how to optimise your diet and nutrition, stress profile, pharmacogenetics (your response to drugs), as well as more serious items related to health. It can identify your genetic risk for cancers and diseases: dementia, Alzheimers and Parkinsons. Even for family planning: if youre looking to have a child, you can check if you or your partner have any genetic conditions that may or may not pass on to your unborn baby.

You can have a full profile of yourself so you can understand what you need to watch out for, areas that need attention and areas that can be optimised its optimised wellbeing.

We are focused on health and prevention. We believe everyone should have the power to understand this information. And once you have this information, this is where you can make changes to your diet and lifestyle, ultimately delaying diseases and cancers.

Circle of life! Its our direct consumer genetics testing brand, so we wanted to have a name that people would relate to and can remember, and ultimately understand what we do straight away.

The best days are when we launch a product, or when we interview passionate potential employees that eventually join us. New partnerships or distribution deals, too. These are good days. But I do think that we make good progress every day, so I guess, theyre all good days. Ultimately what drives us is that we are making a difference for society. Were making a difference to someones health, to their family and potentially the next generation.

I dont know if there is a worst day. I have a very optimistic viewpoint naturally. Its something that comes with being an entrepreneur, I think. Every day has its ups and downs; the challenge is how you get through them.

When Im not at work, I like to spend time with my daughter. Shes five years old. We like to take her out to play. Recently, weve been spending a lot of time on the South Side and we go to the beach.

Not really. As an entrepreneur, you always have to be switched on. So throughout my life, or at least in the last 15 years since becoming an entrepreneur, its been a big part of me, always making sure Im available. So I never switch off fully.

I look at things with a very logical and optimistic perspective so I dont get stressed much, either. I try not to dwell on things, especially things I cant control.

Everything that we have done is part of the learning process. Do I regret anything? No. Were moving in the right direction. The reason we launched Circle (DNA) now, as opposed to 4, 3 or 2 years ago, is because health and wellness has only become a much bigger topic in the last year or two. People are more aware now. So launching now, people already have a good idea.

In the health industry, you have to be a little more patient. It takes time to gain traction. Also, there are certain regulatory aspects, government approvals, lab certifications and a lot of different things that you have to do properly. At the end of the day, its about peoples health, so you want to make sure youre doing everything you can to make sure youre providing the best information to people.

Also, you need to have different stakeholders. Different partners. People that can help get the word out about health. You need to have different parties involved.

Lastly, find out your unique selling proposition, whatever business youre in. If you dont have one, then you shouldnt go into business. A lot of people dont realise that.

Actually, I always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I knew that I wanted to have my own business. I didnt know that it would be this, but I knew I wanted to do my own thing. Thats why I started working really young. I started when I was 15! Or at least thats when I was getting paid. I started working at a baseball card shop when I was 12 and the owner paid me in baseball cards.

I wouldnt say hurdle, but the biggest challenge, even now, is education. Theres still a lot of misinformation about what genetic testing can do. Theres are people who are like, I dont want to know because they think its like a paternity test. But the technology has evolved to be much more than that, so awareness and education for genetic testing is still very important.

Weve been able to do that somewhat, and have utilised three celebrities G.E.M., Vanness Wu and Gigi Leung who have come on board as our ambassadors. G.E.M., who is also an investor of the company, is putting her own personal name on it. It helps to create awareness, but its a continuous challenge. Were still quite new to this space. I mean, in the US, roughly 8% of the population have done a genetic test. Here, in Asia, its only about 0.08%. So you can see the growth opportunity is massive.

I think there are a lot of innovations in health and AI. Better solutions. There is still a lot of opportunity here. For instance turning something invasive into non-invasive. These are areas that are worth looking into.

There may be people that already consider me successful, but I dont look at it that way. I still feel we have a very long way to go. Were maybe at 1% of where we should be, but it has been a great journey thus far. Weve been making the right strategic moves, we have the right investors, the right partnerships and the right business model. Now, we have to just scale and execute.

Ultimately we want to impact millions of people here in Asia. Once we reach a million people, then I might say, Hey, were on to something. But after that, Ill have more goals.

For our technology, the first thing to note is that we utilise whole exome sequencing, while our competitors utilise a technology called genotyping. The problem with genotyping is youre only looking at a snip of a gene. Youre not looking at the whole gene, so youre likely to miss a lot. In fact, a recentstudyrevealed that genotyping companies have a 85% false positive rate. Which means if they provide any positive results, 85% of the time, its wrong.

Meanwhile, our test has also been externally validated by CUHK, the Croucher Laboratoryfor HumanGenomics, for analytical accuracy at 99.9%. Accuracy to determine that gender mutation does exist in your body.

Im a prime example. About three years ago, I actually detected that I have an increased risk of colon cancer. So of course, I was quite scared and shocked because I dont have a family history of cancer. In fact, 40-50% of people who have genetic mutations do not have a history.

It was because of that risk that I modified my diet and lifestyle. I cut out red meat and lost over 20 pounds over the last 3 years. And I also started early screening at 37 years of age. I wouldnt have done it if I didnt get those results. I would have most likely waited until age 50, which is the global recommendation for screening. But for someone like me with an increased risk, that may have been too late for me.

Thats a bold statement to make, but I can certainly say that our tests can definitely delay or help people to prevent diseases and cancers, therefore saving lives.

For more information about Circle DNA, visit their websitehere.

(Main image: Unsplash, Photos: Circle DNA)

This story first appeared on Prestige Hong Kong.

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Danny Yeung of Circle DNA: Genetic testing can help prevent and reduce health concerns - Prestige Online

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