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More data fueling explosion of personalized nutrition

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

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Getty Images

Related tags personalized nutrition Personalization

Additional data will continue to fuel the growth of personalized nutrition, participants in a panel discussion said.

The panel discussion was broadcast as a webinar hosted by NutraIngredients-USA. The panel included Diana Morgan, MS, head of scientific and regulatory affairs at the company Care/of, Rony Sellam, CEO at InsideTracker andNathan Price, PhD, of the Institute of Systems Biology in Seattle. 

Spectrum of approaches

The three panelists represent a spectrum of approaches to personalized nutrition. Care/of uses a detailed questionnaire approach to match customers up with a suite of proprietary products. InsideTracker uses a combination of biomarker data with an automated, web based personalized nutrition platform to help consumers meet their goals, but doesn’t sell dietary supplement products per se.

The most detailed work has been done by Price at his institute in Seattle. In addition to helping to found the institute, Price was also a founder of the personalized nutrition company Arivale, which measured many biomarkers for their customers and then took a big data approach to collating and analyzing all of those results to come up with recommendations for their clients.

Arivale ceased operations earlier this year, not because the approach wasn’t working but because it proved to be too expensive. 

Using data gathered in the Arivale effort, Price and his research team members found numerous correlations between genetic factors, nutritional inputs and levels of certain important metabolites.  He said additional research that is in the final stages of preparation for publication takes this a step further by matching up genetic factors through metabolic pathways with more than 50 disease states.

Sellam said InsideTracker’s approach has been validated through peer reviewed research conducted by co founder Gil Blander, PhD and scientific advisory board member Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, of Tufts University.  Their research found that the use of the company’s web based tool affected in a positive way a wide variety of biomedical benchmarks, such as cholesterol, blood pressure, BMI, etc.

And Morgan said Care/of has lots of data showing how her company’s approach helps drive compliance with supplement regimes.

It’s a huge market opportunity.  Estimates for the size of this market range on the high end from as much as $50 billion dollars by the year 2025 to more conservative estimates of $11 to $12 billion. And research firms forecast CAGR of 7% to 9% in that period.  There is also significant mergers & acquisition interest in this space as shown by the acquisition this year of Persona by Nestle.

More data equals more precision

What’s clear is that the concept will continue to evolve. Price said more data will further refine the precision of the recommendations personalized nutrition companies can offer.  For example, genetic factors could determine how well a given consumer will respond to efforts to lower their cholesterol numbers, and will give insight into how important it is for them to be concerned about this.

And Sellam said that as these recommendations get more precise, the close involvement of a company’s regulatory counsel will be mandatory.  Already in the personal data sphere there has been a big cautionary tale in the form of the problems 23andMe ran into with the US Food and Drug Administration, which construed the data and recommendations the company was giving to its consumers to be an unapproved medical device.

Sellam said 23andMe’s big mistake was to extrapolate from existing science, to make up their own, in other words.  But the potential pitfalls are many, since companies are advising consumers about how to improve their health, so consulting with regulatory counsel early and often will be of increasing importance, he said.

On demand webinar

To hear the full discussion, sign in here​ to hear the webinar on demand.

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