NutraIngredients-USA recently awarded Radicle Science its Start-Up Award, which showcases innovators and entrepreneurs who are blazing the trail in the nutrition and health market. By harnessing the power of technology to take research to the next level, this AI-driven healthtech B-Corp received this honor for its out-of-the-box mindset, potential for change and commercial success.
While nearly 80% of Americans use natural products, Pelin Thorogood, co-founder and executive chair of Radicle Science, said most supplement companies still don’t have proof of effectiveness for their products.
“That’s because they haven’t had easy or affordable access to clinical trials. This has created a huge proof gap between the benefits supplement companies promise and the scientific evidence to back it up. Both of us had experienced the grave ramifications of this proof gap and were frustrated with the limitations of the existing paradigm. We also knew we had the passion, will and the combined experience to establish a completely new approach to offer history’s first easy path to proving the true effects of nonprescription health and wellness products beyond placebo,” said Thorogood of her partner, Jeff Chen, MD, co-founder and CEO of Radicle Science
Since day one, the duo has been on a mission to productize rigorous clinical trials into an automated, standardized, highly scalable tech offering to enable proof generation at unprecedented affordability, speed and scale. At its core, Thorogood characterizes Radicle Science as a rebellion against the status quo of research and healthcare as well as a movement towards personalized, proven health and wellness treatments trusted by consumers, recommended by healthcare providers, and are used to deliver well-being for all generations.
“That’s the abundant future we are creating, and consider ourselves—and our entire team at Radicle—‘rebels with a cause,’” she added.
Chen said one of the biggest challenges was figuring out how to dramatically improve the cost and speed of clinical trials, while maintaining scientific rigor, and actually improving the generalizability of the findings.
“This tremendous challenge required us to dig deep into the root causes of the current problems to completely re-imagine clinical trials, and led to our creation of the ‘Poof-as-a-Service’ category. Leveraging this completely new approach, we offer gold-standard double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials powered with an AI-driven, crowdsourced, virtual, direct-to-consumer approach to deliver rigorous proof generation that’s both an order of magnitude cheaper and faster and also more relevant to the general population,” he said.
The large sample size of our trials deliver statistical power that is unprecedented for supplement trials. Our standardized study designs de-risk the trials and result in far less bias. Our automated approach enables us to serve many clients in parallel. Additionally, our virtual and D2C approach enables much higher diversity and inclusion compared to physical trials, finally generating clinical data that’s applicable to the population at large. Last but not least, novel AI applications on these large and heterogeneous data sets enable the optimization of the entire participant experience from recruitment to participant retention, while also delivering increasingly more personalized findings.”
A rewarding journey
Chen and Thorogood agree that being able to leverage Proof-as-a-Service clinical trials to serve a range of clients is the most rewarding part of the job.
“From pre-revenue startups to public companies with valuations that exceed $300 billion–that’s when we know we are truly democratizing access to rigorous proof generation,” said Thorogood.
“We get excited when we see our clients’ positive results where a product in the market or one (or more!) formulations under development significantly beats placebo. What’s especially fulfilling is knowing that In many of these cases, if the trial didn’t employ such a large sample size, products may NOT have outperformed placebo with statistical significance, or better yet discover unexpected positive effects on secondary or exploratory outcomes,” Chen said.
Thorogood added that it's also been very validating for the team to have its trial results published in peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of the American Nutrition Association.
On the right path
“In the short lifetime of our young company, we have created something that is truly unique and valuable to the supplement industry. As a B-corp we believe in being a force for good, and elevating the supplement industry with rigorous data,” said Thorogood.
“Being awarded Startup of the Year is yet another indicator that we are on the right path and should continue to push forward. We remain committed to innovation while always listening to the industry and consumers to ensure we are delivering the highest value offerings possible for all stakeholders.”