Consumer genetics pioneer DnaNudge and Imperial College London join forces with Waitrose & Partners for breakthrough diabetes prevention study

Friday 12 October 2018
  • First public trial of DnaNudge’s technology has today been launched to study effects of DNA-based food choices for pre-diabetic individuals
  • Revolutionary technology empowers participants to “nudge” their everyday shopping choices through their DNA, via wearable wristband or app
  • Research supported by leading UK retailer Waitrose & Partners

Consumer DNA testing pioneer DnaNudge is collaborating with Imperial College London to explore – for the first time – the effects of DNA-personalised food choices on health outcomes for pre-diabetic individuals. The clinical trial with Imperial College London – announced today – is assessing the potential of DnaNudge’s ground-breaking point-of-decision technology for improving glucose regulation and preventing the development of Type 2 diabetes in prone individuals. Recruitment to the 12-month clinical trial is being supported by leading UK retailer Waitrose & Partners, which will be supporting the trial by contacting customers in the North London area from today with information on how to take part should they wish.

Professor Nick Oliver from Imperial College London, who is leading the clinical study at the NIHR Imperial Clinical Research Facility, comments: 'This key trial with DnaNudge allows us – for the very first time – to study in detail the outcomes of DNA-personalised food choices for pre-diabetic individuals, and to explore whether this type of accessible technology can deliver a proactive and sustainable solution to managing nutrition, and preventing the development of Type 2 diabetes in people at highest risk of this long-term condition. The potential for improving public health is very exciting, and we’re looking forward to examining the results from this world-first study.'

The study will examine the potential for DnaNudge’s approach to deliver a low-cost, highly scalable solution for the prevention of Type 2 diabetes in the general population, reducing the intense burden on effective healthcare programmes and resources. Currently, one of the biggest problems facing diabetes prevention is that people are not aware that they are at risk of developing the condition, or of the need for the type of sustainable changes and improvements to their nutritional choices that can be delivered through the DnaNudge system.

Co-investigator of the study Professor Chris Toumazou – Regius Professor of Engineering at Imperial College London and CEO and co-founder of DnaNudge – adds: 'We are excited to be collaborating with Imperial College London to further build out the evidence base for DnaNudge, and to be embarking on the first phase of a public roll-out of our solution. We are very pleased to be supported by Waitrose & Partners as a key partner in this research, which we hope will represent a landmark in harnessing DNA-based food choices for transforming global health.'

How it works
DnaNudge’s revolutionary technology empowers shoppers to 'nudge' their everyday shopping choices through their DNA, at the point of decision. Using a sterile cotton swab, users sweep the inside of their cheek to capture a sample of saliva. This sample swab is then inserted into a special processing cartridge, which is then plugged into a small instant DNA analyser – the DnaNudgeBox – that carries out an on-the-spot genetic test.  Within minutes, an analysis of your specific genetic traits related to nutrition is complete, and the results are securely uploaded to the DnaNudge app on your phone via a wearable capsule (DnaBand). You can now start scanning food items as you shop to find out which products are healthiest for you – based on your DNA.  All genetic information is owned by the user and securely protected on their mobile DnaNudge App.

 'DnaNudge guides shoppers via a clear and simple system: 'thumbs up' for a scanned product means that it is suitable for the user’s unique genetic makeup and individual metabolic traits – which are different for all of us,' says Dr Maria Karvela, co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of DnaNudge. 'Thumbs down' means that the product is not recommended and other items within that product category would offer a healthier option.'  

Commenting on the trial, Moira Howie, Nutrition Manager at Waitrose & Partners, says: 'This is a supermarket first - working with cutting-edge research technology that may prevent Type 2 diabetes developing in those who are prone to it. Supermarkets and food can play a big role in helping shoppers who want to be healthier.  Many of our customers are looking for this and, by offering them the chance to take part in the study, they can make more informed decisions based on their own DNA and, in doing so, also contribute to developments in this important area.'

Notes to editors

About DnaNudge (
DnaNudge is the developer of the world’s first DNA-based service to “nudge” consumers towards genetically optimal buying behaviour.  

One size does not fit all when it comes to nutrition – each one of us is uniquely genetically wired to breakdown and absorb nutrients differently.  With the world facing a major pandemic of obesity, related conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases are endangering lives and straining healthcare systems across the world.  

Co-founded by Regius Professor Chris Toumazou and published geneticist and leukaemia researcher Dr Maria Karvela, DnaNudge uses proprietary DNA semiconductor technology and innovative genotyping techniques coupled with the world’s first database that matches the nutritional values of manufactured food products with genetic characteristics. The result is to completely personalised product recommendations towards healthier choices – a DNA “nudge” – delivered through a wearable device or a mobile app.  

The company’s DNA-based “nudgeomics” concept is now delivering a new breed of consumer genetics testing and information services in a way that has simply not been seen before – sustainable, completely private, totally secure, and direct-to-consumer. Small changes, big outcomes.

Waitrose & Partners Health and Wellbeing
Waitrose & Partners provides a range of products, services and experiences to help its customers lead healthier lives. Earlier this year, the supermarket announced the launch of Healthy Eating Specialists. In a retail first, these shop floor specialists direct customers who ask towards healthier choices. 100 will be in place by the end of the year. The retailer has also launched its new ‘Health’ magazine and has put its new ‘Good Health’ label on a wide range of products to make it easier for customers to make healthier choices. Waitrose & Partners will also be increasing health information available to customers, including tips and inspiration in its publications and online.

Waitrose & Partners has 348 shops in England, Scotland, Wales and the Channel Islands, including 61 convenience branches, and another 27 shops at Welcome Break locations. It combines the convenience of a supermarket with the expertise and service of a specialist shop - dedicated to offering quality food that has been responsibly sourced, combined with high standards of customer service. Waitrose & Partners is an employee-owned business - all employees are Partners and have a say in how the business is run.

About Imperial College London
Imperial College London is one of the world's leading universities. The College's 17,000 students and 8,000 staff are expanding the frontiers of knowledge in science, medicine, engineering and business, and translating their discoveries into benefits for our society.

Imperial is the UK's most international university, according to Times Higher Education, with academic ties to more than 150 countries. Reuters named the College as the UK's most innovative university because of its exceptional entrepreneurial culture and ties to industry.

About The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)
The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR): improving the health and wealth of the nation through research. Established by the Department of Health and Social Care, the NIHR:

·        funds high quality research to improve health

·        trains and supports health researchers

·        provides world-class research facilities

·        works with the life sciences industry and charities to benefit all

·        involves patients and the public at every step

For further information, visit the NIHR website.


For further information please contact:

Nicky Denovan

Waitrose & Partners
Hannah Chance

Eleanor Gillingham
tel: 01344 825080