The Promise of Genetics is Transforming Dermatology

    - first genetic skincare tests and personalized products now available in
    Canada -

    TORONTO, June 5 /CNW/ - The first and only skincare assessment that is
able to measure existing DNA damage in the skin due to UV exposure and provide
a true evaluation of skin's genetic UV risk factor is available in Canadian
pharmacies as of May 2008. dermaDNA(TM), an innovative two-step skincare
system, is also supported by a treatment line that has been clinically proven
to not only protect but also repair the actual cellular DNA damage in the
    "dermaDNA has revolutionized skincare by providing genetic insight into
the overall health of our skin," says Dr. Robert Thayer, Molecular Biologist
and CEO, Genesis Genomics Inc. "The molecular foundation of skin damage due to
exposure to the sun has become clear and we are now able to design accurate
and individualized treatments with dermaDNA(TM) tests and skincare treatments
to prevent and promote repair of DNA damage."

    A new way to classify genetic risk to skin cancer?

    Until now, fair skin and red hair have been considered to be the most
important genetically determined indicators of increased risk of non-melanoma
skin cancer and malignant melanoma. However, in the presence of MC1R gene
variants, the skin type and hair colour are independent variants for skin
cancer.(1) What this means is that skin colour, hair colour and burning
sensitivity to UV are not the only indicators of genetic risk to skin cancer
and DNA damage to skin cells. There are specific genetic variants that
indicate an elevated risk to both non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancer. This
will determine if a person who doesn't burn, has dark skin and dark hair could
still be genetically at risk for DNA damage due to UV exposure and should use
higher levels of precaution while in the sun. It will also indicate any
increased risk beyond skin colour for a light skinned person and will be very
useful in understanding the risk for children before long-term damage occurs.
    The Fitzpatrick Classification Scale is currently used by Canadian
dermatologists to assess the risk of skin cancer in their patients. The
Fitzpatrick Scale is based on a visual, subjective assessment of a person's
complexion, and tolerance to sunlight. It analyzes skin types from I to IV
based on skin colour, hair colour and level of burning when exposed to sun.
Examination of MC1R gene variants can classify skin into the Fitzpatrick style
1-3+ skin types and hair colour, however, there is evidence that MC1R gene
variants amount to higher melanoma and non-melanoma risk independent of skin
type and hair colour.(3) Therefore, dermatologists should be looking beyond
the classification of skin type and hair colour and should be using a MC1R
genetic skin profile test to more accurately determine a patient's skin cancer
and DNA damage risk.
    Dr. Charles Lynde, dermatologist, Assistant Clinical Professor,
University of Toronto and Consultant for University Health Network and
Markham-Stouffville Hospital has reviewed the potential of dermaDNA(TM) tests
and states, 'Dermatologists are aware that the Fitzpatrick system is not
perfect, especially with type IV patients where a patient's skin cancer risk
is difficult to assess. DermaDNA provides a technology breakthrough that could
re-classify skin assessment."

    Why is it important to quantify the level of DNA damage to the skin?

    Environmental stressors such as smoking, pollution and excessive exposure
to UV light harm the skin at the cellular DNA level resulting in damage,
premature aging and potentially unhealthy skin. In fact, research shows that
skin that is frequently exposed to UV radiation and the resulting DNA
mutations ultimately contribute to premature aging.(2)
    When Annette, a 42 year old study participant from Aurora who wants to
avoid costly and harsh anti-aging procedures in the future was asked why she
took the test, she exclaimed, "Why wouldn't anyone want to do this?" and
explained "If this kind of testing will help advance how we treat our skin and
guide us to take steps earlier to prevent premature aging, it is worthwhile to
take the test."
    The dermaDNA skincare system can actually help quantify the damage and
the level of health of one's skin. It is designed to provide a personal
assessment of skin damage and specifically DNA damage caused by sun exposure.
This simple assessment test involves taking a nose and cheek swab and sending
these test swabs to a laboratory. The laboratory reviews them to determine the
actual state of the skin's health with respect to sun damage and the skin's
genetic profile by tracking the MCIR gene, which is the most accurate way to
assess one's genetic UV risk factor and susceptibility to developing skin
cancer. Based on the results of the test, a customized course of action is
recommended using a range of highly advanced skincare treatments to repair DNA
damage and to prevent future cellular DNA skin damage.
    "Skin damage was only spoken of until this point because technology
didn't allow DNA to be measured," says Professor Mark Birch-Machin, 
Chief Dermatology Science Officer, Genesis Genomics Inc. Dermatological
Sciences, University of Newcastle, UK. "Skin cell DNA does not lie, it knows
what you've been up to in summers past even though you may have forgotten."

    A Global Initiative developed by a Canadian Partnership - dermaglow and
    Genesis Genomics

    dermaglow is exclusively bringing dermaDNA to market in partnership with
the award-winning biotechnology firm Genesis Genomics. Research by Genesis
Genomics in collaboration with the Newcastle University facility in the UK and
world-renowned research dermatologist Professor Mark Birch-Machin, has clearly
demonstrated the link between long-term UV exposure, DNA damage, skin cancer
risk and premature aging through the tracking of genetic biomarker
3895.(4)dermaDNA is a result of the technology behind the dermaDNA Cellular
DNA Assessment kit and dermaglow's extensive expertise in skincare products.
"Being able to test a patient's current level of skin damage at a molecular
level for the first time is a compelling argument to get patients to finally
use sun protection, treat their skin and to practice safe sun habits," says
Dr. Charles Lynde.

    Clinical highlights

    A recent four week study conducted by an independent lab, demonstrated
that the dermaDNA(TM) skincare product line can decrease the level of skin
cell DNA damage by seven times over four weeks and protect skin cell DNA from
UV damage.

    -   73 percent increased protection against cellular DNA UV damage using
        dermaDNA(TM) Cellular Repair
    -   28 percent reduction in damaged DNA in 24 hours using dermaDNA(TM)
        Cellular Repair

    Angela, a 53 year old study participant of Italian descent from Ontario
received her dermaDNA(TM) results that included a high level of DNA damage and
a 2x elevated genetic risk to damage from UV exposure. She was surprised with
her results: "I have never really worried about using sunscreens - but now I
realize that I need to use them because of my elevated genetic risk. And
equally important, I would really like to have my children and grandchildren
tested so that my family becomes more aware of the damaging effects of the
    The dermaDNA(TM) Cellular Assessment Kit will retail at Canadian
pharmacies for $165.00 per kit and the dermaDNA(TM) Cellular Repair treatments
will range in price depending on the type of treatment that is required based
on the laboratory test results.


    (1)  Bastiaens, Maarten et al (2001). Melanocortin-1 Receptor Gene
         Variants Determine the Risk of Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer Independently
         of Fair Skin and Red Hair. Departments of Dermatology and Human
         and/Clinical Genetics, Leiden University Medical Centre, RC Leiden,

    (2)  Birket MJ, Birch-Machin, MA, Aging Cell, (2007) Ultraviolet
         radiation exposure accelerates the accumulation of the aging
         dependent T414G mitochondrial DNA mutation in human skin.

    (3)  Kennedy, Cornelis et al (2001). Melanocortin-1 Receptor Gene
         Variants are Associated with an Increased Risk for Cutaneous
         Melanoma which is Largely Independent of Skin Type and Hair Color.

    (4)  Real-time PCR analysis of a 3895 bp mitochondrial DNA deletion in
         non melanoma skin cancer and its use as a quantitative marker for
         sunlight exposure in human skin. Harbottle, Birch-Machin, World
         Congress of Dermatology, October 2007, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
         Birch-Machin, British Journal of Cancer, 2006. University of

For further information:

For further information: Kathie Elliot, (905) 483-0262,

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