Thorne continues push on testing front with deal to develop AI bioinformatics platform

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Thorne continues push on testing front with deal to develop AI bioinformatics platform

Related tags New york city

Thorne has teamed with two bioinformatics experts to found Pillar Health, with a plan to create an artificial intelligence wellness platform that will provide an integrated molecular portrait and optimized recommendations for individuals’ health.

The two experts are Joel Dudley, PhD and Chris Mason, PhD, both of whom have done research and published papers on biomedical informatics and computational biology. Dudley is an associate professor of genetics and genomic sciences and the founding director of the Institute for Next Generation Healthcare at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai hospital in New York City. Mason is an associate professor at Weill Cornell Medicine, the medical school of Cornell University, and is associated with a multi-institute cooperative program in computational biology.

Deal to add to testing capabilities

Thorne CEO Paul Jacobsen said his company, which concentrates on dietary supplement product development in the practitioner channel, will use Pillar Health to build upon its existing testing modalities.

We already have Wellness FX, which has been a place where wed send people to Quest or another center with a phlebotomist to get a blood draw and then release those results to the Wellness platform. Now with Pillar Health, we are adding genetics, microbiome and metabolite analytics that then will be run through an artificial intelligence platform, put together by world famous scientist in the field,​ Jacobson told NutraIngredients-USA.

Jacobsen said Pillar will leverage longitudinal sampling and in-depth measures of a person’s blood, genome, microbiome, metabolites, and environment to reveal altered or missing molecular components needed to accelerate wellness. These components of “precision wellness” can then be prioritized, customized, and ordered online for each individual. According to Thorne, Dudley and Mason pioneered such AI-based adjustments for health and wellness in their research across hundreds of peer-reviewed papers.

Access to NYC expertise

At launch Pillar will have access to millions of customers through Thorne’s customer base of practitioners, elite athletes and consumers, as well as the corporate wellness customer network of WellnessFX. Pillar will work with New York City labs to provide genetic, microbiome, and metabolite tests, as well as new molecular measures of aging and skin health. Jacobsen said Pillar will also leverage Thorne’s recently announced partnership with Drawbridge Health for Drawbridge’s expertise in novel blood sampling technologies that enable convenient and flexible testing, which will eliminate a big hurdle in bringing these testing capabilities to more consumers.

For years, we have built technologies and algorithms for monitoring health for very specialized patients in hospitals, and even for astronauts in space, but our new platform opens up the best-in-class of health and wellness to everyone and anyone,​ Mason said. It is each persons right to know as much as possible about his or her wellness and health, right down to each base pair, methyl group, and molecule.

For the past several years we have developed precision health technologies, which utilize intelligent, data-driven approaches that improve our ability to understand, diagnose, and treat disease, but thus far, precision health has been limited to the clinical realm and problems of manifest disease, and mainstream precision health efforts have yet to explore wellness and disease prevention,​ Dudley said.

The new partnership also plans to build on relationships Dudley and Mason have built over the years in and around New York City.

We believe New York City is a vastly under-utilized location for attracting internationally renowned health care entrepreneurs,​ said Jacobson. By running a lean operation based on early profitability and an ability to carefully select when and from whom we take money, we plan to become a magnet for great ideas, technologies, devices and products to solve many of the problems facing our healthcare system today.

Sharing the wealth

With many of these testing services, such as the mainstream genetic testing companies, assembling large amounts of data which can be packaged and sold is part of the play. That’s true for Pillar Health, too, but the partners said they plan to share the wealth, and to incentivize users of the platform to share their data by promising them a share in the profits if it is eventually resold.

We intend to shake up the traditional model that allows companies to grow on the backs of their customers without sharing the wealth. Our goal is to profit by improving your health, not by simply owning your data,​ Dudley said.

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