Goodbye PDA, Hello PGA: When your genome tells you what to buy

Nearly 20 years ago the Apple Newton became the first device to be called a PDA, 14 years ago Nokia provided a newly mobile world with the 9000 Communicator, which was the first phone with PDA functions.

Since then we have quickly become a nation that relies on our phones to help us remember important information, check prices, run background checks on our dates and even do our taxes.

These tasks, while impressive, are but the beginning of the ways in which our mobile phones will help us make decisions.

According to Dr. Andras Pellionisz, a triple PhD holder, the time is near when phones will evolve from a PDA to a PGA -- Personal Genome Assistant capable of helping purchase the right vitamins and foods to delay or prevent proclivities to diseases such as macular degeneration or diabetes that are revealed by genotyping.
In a recent demonstration given at the Personalized Medicine World Conference, Pellionisz demonstrated a PGA application from HolGenTech, which can access the raw data of a genotyping from a company such as 23andMe, connect with other sources like Microsoft HealthVault and account for personal choices such as being a vegetarian to help consumers make healthier shopping decisions. Pellionisz describes the Personal Genome Assistant as an answer to consumers who were otherwise puzzled by their genotyping results.

While you could hire a personal nutritionist like geneticist Francis Collins did; this is cost prohibitive for the average consumer. By using a computer to read and make recommendations HolGenTech's PGA is able to rate foods, supplements and vitamins on a scale of -10 to +10 based on how good they are for you without the expense of a nutritionist.

Using the PGA is as simple as checking a price on your cellphone. Just use the camera built into your smartphone and a barcode reader app to scan the barcode of an item you want to compare. Using ingredient data from the USDA and other sources HolGenTech's Personal Genome Assistant compares the ingredients, cross-referencing them to data from genomic testing, in order to deliver a personalized recommendation -- much like a nutritionist might.

Here is an example of how you might use a PGA to shop:

"The genome is not your destiny", stressed Pellionisz in a phone interview with WalletPop, explaining that there is no reason to fear the information you might learn by using a service such as 23andMe. One of the things that HolGenTech hopes to accomplish with a PGA is to provide consumers with the ability to better understand their genome and in turn make better health decisions.

Shopping by genome may sound like science fiction, but unlike our flying cars, the ability to use a PGA to make better decisions is a reality and in the near future you may not only use it to purchase food, supplements and vitamins, but maybe even the building materials of your next house or what type of sheets to buy.
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