A kit for Nestle Japan’s nutritional drink. Photographer: Kentaro Takahashi/Bloomberg
Nestle is taking an innovative approach to product development, starting with the Japan market.
According to Quartz News – “Some 100,000 people are taking part in a company program there that gives consumers a kit to collect their DNA at home. The program also encourages them to use an app to post pictures of what they’re eating. Nestlé then recommends dietary changes and supplies specialized supplements that can be sprinkled on or mixed into a variety of food products, including teas.”
Ultimately, the goal for Nestle actually goes beyond this, to creating completely individualized products based on individuals’ DNA that could even be designed to prevent serious diseases like cancer. Quartz’s crude example is “Pizzas that can ward off Alzheimer’s disease, for instance”.
One nutritional scientist says, “This is going to be the manifestation of the future. The one-size-fits-all platform is a thing of the past.”
Why it’s hot:
First, as the largest food company in the world, Nestle could be leading the way into a new era of food production – one that’s almost completely the opposite of its heritage over the last few decades. But most importantly, it’s another example of the shift we’re finally seeing from mass production to ultra-personalized products. While using DNA as the mechanism is not without concerns, what better experience than having food and supplements created for you based on what your body needs to keep you at peak health.
The 23 & Me craze has spilled into the animal kingdom for pet owners who want more info on their pet’s breed and medical predispositions. Companies such as Embark and AnimalBiome will gladly take your money to test your dog or cat’s dna. Is it worth it? Probably more for dog owners curious about their breed, but don’t spend too much.
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Why It’s Hot
While there’s nothing wrong with digging into your pet’s dna, it does feel like someone is taking advantage of a larger trend.
Data storage of the future: DNA. Researchers were able to recreate and store a short film into bacterial DNA and then retrieve it! With the use of Crispr, a powerful gene editing technique they were able to create this masterpiece in some good ‘ol E. coli.
Since there has been buzz around data storage being a growing issue this “futuristic feature” may be the new method of data storage. The intended purpose wasn’t to store movies but instead, researchers hope to be able to program bacteria as recording devices that can drift into the brain through the blood stream and essentially take notes. It would work similarly to airplane black boxes that are used to retrieve information in the event of a crash.
Why it’s hot:
There are so many possibilities. If DNA can store data like this, imagine what it could do for doctors and researchers. Feeling a little ill and not entirely sure what the issue is? Perhaps your doctor can retrieve the information directly from inside of you.
A startup called Habit is providing personalized nutrition/diet plans and meals based on customers’ DNA. For $299, with few drops of blood and saliva, scientists and nutritionists can tailor nutritional advice specified to your biological make up – what food your body craves, rejects, etc.
Once customers’ metabolic and DNA analyses are gathered, Habit also recommends individual’s health goals through its Nutrition Intelligence Engine algorithm to place them into one of seven Habit types. Each type has different plan specifies the ideal ratio of carbs, protein, and fat in each meal in addition to the TYPES of carbs, protein, and fat their body will respond best to.
Meal plans and access to health coach are further complemented by personalized meals that are delivered fresh to your door – for extra cost of course. Working with biometric devices such as Fitbit, participants can use their devices to monitor their progress and enable Habit staff to input any changes to plans/meals as needed.
Why it’s HOT:
- this is a business model around hyper personalization, based on individual biological make up, can’t get more personal that this.
- there will be the growth of converging science/nutrition/data to create consumer facing products and services.
- Habit was valued at $210 bil by Morgan Stanley Research for its meal-delivery services – with the potential to disrupt and clearly differentiate itself from Blue Apron and other food delivery services.
Imagine in a few years that storing data in disk drives will seem quaint and old-fashioned compared with the possibility of actually encoding it in DNA and storing in for millions of years. That’s the hypothesis of a team of researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich who note that disk drives are susceptible to heat, moisture, magnetic fields and general wear and tear. In fact, 22% of hard drives are said to fail within 4 years.
So, taking inspiration from nature, the researchers have developed a technique to use actual DNA, which is so compressed it can store a million gigabytes of data in one cell. The DNA is then encased in glass. According to an article on mnn.com, ” For the test run, Switzerland’s Federal Charter of 1291 — the official document that originally bound Switzerland as a unified region — and Archimede’s The Methods of Mechanical Theorems, were encoded inside DNA segments…”After storing the DNA for a simulated 10,000 years in the fridge at 4 °C [40 °F], about 80 percent of the sequences contain at least one error and about 8 percent of the sequences are completely lost,” Dr. Robert Grass, from the Swiss team, told Gizmag. “Still… we are able to decode the data without final error.”
Why It’s Hot
DNA can be the most potent form of data storage available. We already have seen the DNA from a 110,000-year-old polar bear and more recently a 700,000-year-old horse extracted and sequenced. With the amount of data being produced daily, having the storage capability to preserve it all is crucial.