Viome was founded in 2016 on a fascinating insight.
While most researchers and scientists at the time were focused on looking at your genome (your DNA and genes) for clues to better fight disease, Naveen and his team knew that DNA doesn’t change.
What does change is your gene expression:
which genes are expressed (turned on for transcription into mRNA and thereafter proteins), how they are expressed, and how the expression of these genes change over time.
Knowing the DNA of a particular organism allows you to identify that specific organism, but it doesn’t tell you which of its genes are actually turned on.
You need to look beyond DNA to messenger RNA (mRNA) to understand which part of the organism’s DNA is actually transcribed, which genes are being “expressed”—then you can understand what it’s doing.
So, what if we could measure gene expression?
And not only of your human genes. What if you could measure the gene expression of the 100 trillion bacteria in your gut microbiome, which transform our food into fuel, and how these microbial genes impact your health? Viome does this using a process called meta-transcriptome sequencing to look at what mRNA and proteins the microbes in your gut are producing.
We’ve heard about the microbiome for nearly a decade, but we’re just now starting to realize just how impactful it is on our mood, our diet, and our overall health.
As Naveen puts it, by simply analyzing your microbiome and then adjusting your diet and nutrition, and taking steps to understand what supplements you need, you can vastly improve your health while reducing your risk of disease.
For example, is vitamin B3 (Niacin) good for everyone?
Not necessarily. If your body has high production levels of uric acid, then you shouldn’t be taking vitamin B3 because it could be harmful.
It’s giving you this kind of accurate picture of your unique health that Viome does so well.
HOW EXACTLY DOES VIOME WORK?
Viome’s core service is its Health Intelligence Test, and the first step in the process is to take a few drops of blood and a stool sample (an at home, easy-to-use process).
The results of the Health Intelligence Test include a range of key metrics including: (i) your immune health; (ii) your biological age; (iii) your cellular health; and, (iv) the health of your gut.
Based on these findings and insights, Viome will recommend which foods you should eat and which ones to avoid and why, which nutrients and supplements you need, and so on.
Viome then makes recommendations of food extracts, vitamins, probiotics, prebiotics, minerals, herbs, etc. that are all personalized for you. And importantly, the platform and its recommendations are dynamic: as your body changes over time, so will the recommendations.
The company will soon include another test, Health Intelligence Test Plus, based on saliva samples that will add yet another layer of analysis and insights.
DATA DOESN’T LIE
Viome recently did a study of 10,000 people to measure the effects of receiving Viome’s recommendations of supplements over a period of 4 months.
Here are some of the findings:
Viome then used a machine learning model that analyzed microbial activity, which was able to actually predict the glycemic response of different foods: if you eat this food, then this will be your body’s sugar response in your blood.
SO, WHAT’S NEXT?
Viome is now using its platform for early detection, and perhaps eventually prevention, of certain types of cancer.
The FDA recently awarded the company “Breakthrough Device Designation” for its mRNA technology and AI platform to detect oral and throat cancer.
They will soon be publishing a series of scientific papers on how its technology can detect those cancers using only a saliva-based test.
And Viome isn’t stopping there.
The company’s analyses of the human microbiome are now leading to a new understanding of the mechanisms that lead to the formation of different cancers.
These findings are already surfacing new insights on the treatment of colorectal cancer, and they are charting a path to eventually treat other cancers, including pancreatic, breast, and ovarian cancers.
Viome is even starting to look at how its technology can be used to treat mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and even Alzheimer’s diseases. In success, Viome may be able to detect diseases like cancers, autoimmune, and mental health conditions far earlier than what is possible today.
Finally, we’ll know exactly how to increase and decrease microbial strains and their activities—the production of enzymes and amino acids—with pinpoint accuracy. And that means that we will also get one step closer to what Viome envisions: a world where “illness is optional.”
The microbiome is an open frontier ripe for innovation and a chance to make a massive difference in our health by optimizing every person’s unique biological makeup.
Now is truly an exciting time to understand how to improve our health in ways we previously couldn’t have even imagined.
And Viome is leading the way to harness this new knowledge to detect and prevent diseases much earlier, and to more precisely inform personal lifestyle and nutritional decisions that will help us live longer, healthier, and more productive lives.
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Photo by Karolina Kołodziejczak on Unsplash