Healthcare is coming to the home, and companies should be prepared to offer vertical solutions, says Thorne CEO
The first Onegevity product to launch is GutBio, which sequences a user’s stool sample to collect personalized insights and recommendations to help individuals manage and improve their gut health.
Many microbiome-testing start-ups use 16S sequencing, which can map out the gut flora make-up of a user. Because the microbiome is dynamic, many of these testing companies sell their kits in packs of three or four, to use over a period to see how any dietary intervention or supplementation may have modulated the gut.
On the other hand, GutBio goes several steps beyond, analyzing the function of the microbiome instead of just mapping out the microbes, said Paul Jacobson, co-founder of Onegevity and CEO of Thorne.
“While individual microbes might change over time, what we are interested in is the function of the microbiome,” he told us. The technology Onegevity is using to analyze the stool samples of GutBio users is called whole genome shotgun sequencing.
“Our metagenome product gives us more power to better identify what makes someone’s microbiome unique by higher resolution sequencing, but also more power to analyze the microbiome from a functional level in terms of metabolic pathways, and more.”
Founded by doctors
Thorne, a supplement company that distributes products primarily in the healthcare practitioner channel, is the largest minority shareholder in Onegevity. It will help market the start-up’s products to its 35,000 healthcare practitioner customers for use by their patients.
In addition to Jacobson, Onegevity is the brainchild of two doctors. One is Dr. Joel Dudley, a professor of genetics and genomic sciences, endowed chair of biomedical data science, and founding Director of the Institute for Next Generation Healthcare at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
The other is Dr. Chris Mason, associate professor of physiology and biophysics at Weill Cornell Medicine, where he is also director of the WorldQuant Initiative for Quantitative Prediction and lead for Precision Metagenomics.
“Onegevity has some of the leading microbiome scientists in the world who will help educate doctors who wish to provide this service to their patients, or to consumers who want access largely because they’ve tried many avenues to feel better and nothing has worked,” Jacobson said.
Moving on to blood and genetic samples
Onegevity will slowly roll-out the other testing kits that will complete the suite of personalized nutrition information sources.
For blood samples, it is working exclusively with Drawbridge Health to develop a system to enable a convenient and nearly painless blood testing procedure across multiple applications in the Onegevity product line.
“In order for us to use the One Draw device from Drawbridge Health, which is in our plan for future services, Drawbridge must receive FDA 510k Clearance,” Jacobson said. “We expect it within a reasonable period of time. We cannot, and will not, use it to collect blood without FDA Clearance.”
By having all these different sources of information about how an individual’s body might react to certain nutrients, Onegevity’s goal is to offer an integrated view of the user’s data, informing personalized nutrition and supplementation recommendations.
“Thorne’s medical, clinical and product innovation teams will work together with Onegevity to help find or make the best product solutions for the various health product indications offered for sale by Onegevity,” Jacobson explained.
Building trust in the diagnostics space
As at-home testing kits become more common, and many competing companies bring products to the personalized nutrition arena, standing out from the crowd and building consumer trust will be no easy task.
For Onegevity, another main point of differentiation is their network of 35,000 physician customers who already distribute and recommend Thorne products.
“Our goal is to make [these physicians] a part of the offering. Our strategy is to present longitudinal data that allow the customer to interact and let us know if their health is improving, and to take the science of data seriously,” he said.
“Our solutions will always be data driven, and the customers will have access to not only our recommendations but they will be able to determine if their health is improving and if they are feeling better,” he added.
The company also intends to show consumers that its machine-learning platform adjusts along the way, which may inspire confidence in Onegevity’s recommendations. “If our product solutions don’t work, we must admit it, and stop selling those products…however, we are utilizing significant medical literature databases on supplements + clinical trials + data that we derive from our own trials,” he added.
This is why Thorne and Onegevity think becoming a one-stop-shop for all aspects of personalized nutrition is crucial. “Most testing companies do not have our level of integration or sophistication and research in these areas, and while they offer suggestions, they don’t offer solutions,” he said.
“We take both seriously. If you believe in the trend that ‘healthcare is coming to the home,’ you really need to be prepared to offer vertical solutions.”
Co-founder Dr. Mason added: “Ten years ago, genetic and microbiome sequencing were isolated to advanced research groups and the ultrawealthy at costs in excess of $50,000 and provided limited insights,”
“Today, our platform may open up best-in-class health and wellness to anyone and everyone with utility for the data. We give customers access to molecular details, digital health paths, and data analytics in an actionable manner that results in tangible solutions to improve quantifiable health outcomes. It is each person’s right to know as much as possible about his or her health, right down to each base pair, methyl group, and molecule, and we firmly believe this will become the new model to better understand, diagnose, and treat disease.”