Scientific wellness is a straightforward idea: use data about a person’s genes, proteins and other biology, along with behavioral coaching, to keep them healthy, even preventing health problems before they arise. The approach is championed by genomics pioneer Lee Hood, and it’s being pursued his latest startup, Seattle-based Arivale.
But a new study, to be published in the journal Nature Biotechnology, is putting the concept on the map with hard data that points to the effectiveness of the scientific wellness approach. The nine-month study by Hood’s Institute for Systems Biology led to the founding of Arivale.
In the study, known as the “Pioneer 100 Wellness Project,” researchers and health coaches tried out the approach, which would later evolve into the Arivale program, on 108 individuals. At the core of the program are what they call “personal dynamic, dense data clouds” about people’s health and biology.
The clouds were built using troves of data: genetics tests, digital monitoring of physical activity and blood, urine, stool, and saliva samples collected every three months. Using that data, personal health coaches helped participants change their lifestyle to meet health goals.
That coaching could include making changes to diet, exercise, stress management, dietary supplements, or referring people to specific healthcare resources, as needed. And it can focus on a number of health goals, like managing or preventing Type 2 diabetes or improving cardiovascular health.
The bottom line of the study is: Researchers successfully found biological markers that helped them tailor wellness treatment to each patient. In other words, they were able to help people meet health goals using personal data clouds, and they gathered data that will help them do so even more effectively in the future.
“Just as the Hubble Telescope provided a new view into the universe, these data sets have been transformational in providing new insights into both human biology and disease,” Hood said in a statement. “We have termed this quantitative and transformational approach Scientific Wellness, which enables individuals to improve their health and wellbeing, while generating the data necessary to optimize wellness as well as avoid or slow down the transition into certain disease states.”
The study was conducted more than two years ago at Hood’s Institute for Systems Biology. Hood founded Arivale with the company’s CEO, Clayton Lewis, and many of the researchers behind the original study.
The company now offers its scientific wellness program to anyone with $3,499 in their pocket, and Arivale is collecting more data to refine and further study the scientific wellness approach. In the paper, researchers said they’re aiming to recruit 100,000 people to a new study by 2020.