In 2006, a Scientific American article written by George Church, “Genomics for All,” rekindled my interest in genomics. I went back to school in 2009 to contemplate the business of genomic medicine, and celebrated my MBA by writing a Wikipedia entry for the word, “Exome.” I was hooked.
Along the way, I realized that medical imaging and genomics are highly complementary: genomics informs or identifies conditions, and radiology localizes them. Sarah-Jane Dawson pointed this out at a Future of Genomic Medicine conference in 2014.
By participating in this a crowd-sourced study on Genomera (now defunct), I tested niacin supplementation as a potential treatment for Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS).
The protocol is based on ramping up from 0 mg to 1000 mg of niacin over one month. I had to taper off my current medication that I have taken for 10 years, clonazepam, for a week and then take nothing for a control week.
I recorded some sliding scale measurements of RLS sensation, leg jerks, sleep, etc. in a spreadsheet (above), and worked with Genomera to create an “instrument,” a web page for data entry. I used Tonic to remind me to take niacin with meals, and Fitbit to record my sleep.
Two weeks after taking niacin (500 mg/day), I did not see any improvement so I stopped taking niacin. Afterwards, I saw my doctor and we had a great discussion about the genetic factors that contribute to the disease. He also suggested that I check my ferritin level, since some people with RLS have this hidden iron deficiency. I learned that my ferritin level is very low, so I am starting an iron supplement. With luck, I will be able to report some improvement in my RLS in a future post.
I posted my 23andMe results to Genomera (now defunct), a new site designed to crowd-source health discovery. It’s something like “Facebook meets genomics.” My Genomera profile contained a link to my genome– eventually, I will also post trait information that I am gathering with Traitwise.