Viome has built an AI-driven platform that analyzes the interaction between food, a person’s microbiome, and human cells to develop precision nutrition to prevent and reverse chronic diseases.
On April 15, The Food Institute presented a thought-provoking webinar entitled “Food As Medicine,” featuring Naveen Jain, the founder and CEO of Viome, and Momo Vuyisich, co-founder and chief science officer. The duo has developed a system that could revolutionize how America eats. Viome utilizes vast scientific data to analyze the microbes and RNA in the human gut, then prescribes an individualized nutrition plan that includes a diet, plus supplements.
“Our goal is to change the direction of how humanity will live,” said Jain. He believes that chronic disease can be prevented, even reversed, by tailoring diets to the microbiome that exists inside every person.
“We have the science and technology to understand the root causes of chronic diseases,” added Vuyisich. “It is all chemistry and mathematics. We can finetune the molecular level that contributes to chronic disease with food, to prevent the root cause.”
Vuyisich knows what he is talking about. As a government scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, he led international teams of scientists to develop the most advanced genomic technologies and apply them to a variety of applications, such as infectious diseases, cancer, toxicology, human physiology, microbiology, virology, and so on. And with the leadership and backing of serial entrepreneur Jain, the future of Viome looks promising.
Here’s how the technology works. Unlike most microbiological companies, Viome analyzes both human stools and blood to create a microbiome profile of each customer. Jain describes each person’s gut as an individual “universe” with trillions of microbes working together. Viome also analyzes the individual’s RNA whereas most other companies focus on DNA. More than 200,000 people are part of the “ecosystem,” ie database, that Viome utilizes and that number is growing. As Jain says, “Every customer benefits by those that have gone before them.”
For instance, spinach could be beneficial for one person and harmful for the next. Animal protein can cause inflammation for some and be positive for others. It is all depends on what is being produced by the trillions of microbes in each person’s gut.
The Viome solution begins with one of two tests. The Health Intelligence Test analyzes microbial gene expression, human gene expression and mitochondrial gene expression and yields 30 high level scores. The Gut Intelligence Test measure microbial gene expression and yields 20 scores.
After analyzing each person’s genes and microbiome, Viome provides a suggested diet plus supplements to improve on the diet.
Will Viome change medicine? Jain observes, “With the present system, everybody makes money when you are sick. We need to change the incentive to transform the medical community.”
There are many believers. According to Jain, Viome customers say that they sleep better, have more energy and better skin. Acne is reduced because the diet and supplements reduce the root cause—inflammation. According to Viome, 37% of customers report a reduction in severe irritable bowel syndrome and 35% have experienced decreases in depression.
Another significant question is whether consumers will radically alter their eating habits based on a microbiome and genetic test.
Whatever the answers are, the market will be watching.