By John Russell
August 12, 2008 | Biosimulation specialist Entelos has launched an intriguing website – MyDigitalHealth.com – that suggests the company is testing the waters for a major push into the consumer world of personalized medicine and health. This is a bold move.
Entelos is best known for its portfolio of PhysioLab computational disease models used in drug R&D. A year ago, the company acquired Iconix and its database of gene expression signatures. Now, the company seems to be leveraging its various technologies to create a ‘platform’ that would be able to take a variety of inputs – various biomarkers, SNP and genotype data, lifestyle attributes - from individual patients and produce a personalized risk assessment and, presumably, lifestyle and medication guidance.
The theme repeated throughout the site to visitors is: Know. Act. Achieve.
Setting aside regulatory issues, this is a fascinating move into an entirely different business, with enormous potential for scaling up revenues. Scaling up business has been a persistent problem for most systems biology companies for a variety of reasons. Entelos has long been an innovator in seeking new markets in which to apply its technology. For example, it has built a skin sensitization PhysioLab as part of a partnership with Unilever targeting the cosmetics market.
“This is still a very early effort,” says Alex Bangs, Entelos CTO and co-founder. “We’re hoping with the site to stimulate discussion and get feedback. It’s also helps show our traditional partners in the pharmaceutical world that Entelos is about personalized medicine, even if we don’t use the term very much.”
This new ‘personalized medicine’ offering might be delivered in any of several ways -- direct to the consumer; as a service to individual physicians to offer to their patients; as part of a partnership with another company such as 23andMe; or as a service to clinics and other such healthcare delivery organizations - no doubt there are more.
Bangs recently previewed some of Entelos’ work in this area at CHI’s Beyond Genome conference last June (San Francisco). There, he discussed the capability to take data from an individual and model it using Entelos technology to derive risk assessments and develop suggested course of actions to improve a patient’s health. This work was recently highlighted by prominent writer David Ewing Duncan, who worked with Entelos to obtain a self-assessment as part of larger project he is conducting.
Here’s an except from MyDigitalHealth.com. “Duncan is currently working on a new book, Experimental Man: What One Man's Body Reveals About His Future, Your Health, and Our Toxic World. He was the first person to benefit from MyDigitalHealth, which will be featured in the book and is also included as part of the "Body" topic on the Experimental Man website. David recently covered his experience with MyDigitalHealth in his "Natural Selection" column on Portfolio.com.” Site visitors can then click through the process Duncan underwent.
Bangs says no timeline has been set for actually rolling out a product. Write to me, firstname.lastname@example.org, with your thoughts on this move by Entelos.