Thorne beefs up personalized testing with new partnership

By Hank Schultz contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Dietary supplement

WellnessFX features dashboards to help users track and organize their personal health data. WellnessFX photo
WellnessFX features dashboards to help users track and organize their personal health data. WellnessFX photo
Thorne Research is expanding the analytical tools it offers practitioners and consumers with the addition of microbiome assays and genomic testing in a collaboration with Petrichor Analytics.

Offered through Thorne’s subsidiary WellnessFX, the new kits for use at home will enable blood, saliva, and stool sampling for blood chemistry, genetics, and microbiome analysis. This expansion of its data-driven, health solutions platform will allow WellnessFX to provide personalized and accurate dietary, lifestyle and supplemental recommendations to its customer base of more than 25,000 physicians and 4 million plus Thorne Research and WellnessFX customers.

Thorne acquired WellnessFX in 2012. Founded in 2010, WellnessFX has up to now used data gathered from blood samples given by users at established labs. The results from those tests are then plugged into the company’s propriety software tool and displayed on personal dashboards through which users can track their progress via changes in given parameters. The company also provides nutrition and lifestyle coaching.

The elegance of those dashboards was one of the things that first attracted Thorne to WellnessFX, said Thorne CEO Paul Jacobsen. It allowed practitioners and their patients an easy way to see what dietary supplement products might be the best choices and to assess how they were working. This new partnership vastly expands that picture, Jacobsen said.

“We’ve never done microbiome testing before,” ​Jacobsen told NutraIngredients-USA. “Very few companies are doing it and doing it at the level that Petrichor is doing. We are developing a very sophisticated software package that will tie together the blood analysis and the information from the microbiome testing.”

Staying on the right side of the line

Personalized nutrition, in other words the potential tailoring of a diet and supplementation plan based on measurements of how an individual consumer’s system metabolizes nutritional inputs and what their specific needs and deficits might be, has been the holy grail of the supplements industry. That program would have to rest upon a robust testing methodology that yields verifiable and reproducible results. But the whole personal analytics picture was clouded in the past couple of years with the highly-publicized difficulties that testing firm 23andMe had with the Food and Drug Administration, which construed that company’s first iteration of its genomic tests via saliva samples to be an unapproved medical device. Some of FDA’s concerns revolved around the level of medical advice that was provided with the test results and how consumers might use that information to make health care decisions. 23andMe has resolved its issues with FDA, and the rest of the industry took notice.

“All of the work we are doing is aimed at prevention and wellness,” ​Jacobsen said. “The recommendation engine can be turned on or off. If people want recommendations they can get them.”

“The real strength of this is the ability to tie the blood results into the genetic information.  We are aiming at prevention and wellness markets as well as for those consumers who want to optimize athletic performance,” ​Jacobsen said.

The home kits are already being tested by several professional basketball and football teams, as well as elite CrossFit athletes and teams, Jacobsen said.

“We are in the middle of our first pilot. The initial users are a mixture of patients and athletes who are under a doctor’s care. There are also a few company CEOs and a few doctors themselves,”​ he said.

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