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Start-Up Building Mobile Apps Combining DNA, Lifestyle

DNA in hand

(Gerd Altmann, Pixabay)

20 July 2017. A new enterprise in California is creating smartphone apps that provide lifestyle advice based on DNA analysis and activity tracking. The first app from Exploragen, in Rancho Santa Margarita, California offers customized guidance for improving one’s sleep that combines assessments of DNA and activity data related to sleep.

Exploragen says it plans to build mobile apps with algorithms derived from published scientific findings connecting genomics to physiological traits. The algorithms and apps will build in data on lifestyle factors provided by the users with features on the mobile device or entered on the screen.

The company’s first app, known as SlumberType, uses the DNA analysis to establish connections between one’s genetic code and basic sleep behavior, such as the amount of time it takes to fall asleep and length of time sleeping, as well as finding the most productive parts of the day. SlumberType also tracks activities that influence sleep such as caffeine and alcohol consumption, eating times, exercise, use of computers and phones in the evening, and yoga or meditation.

The analysis provided by SlumberType, says the company, will provide insights for the users into their sleep patterns based on relationships between DNA and these factors, such as metabolism of caffeine, as well as broader insights into the individual’s personality and how the person performs or manages tasks. The app, being written for the iPhone, also allows for personalized alarms and schedules, based on its analysis, to maximize an individual’s productivity reflecting insights derived from the app. No delivery date has yet been given for SlumberType.

The DNA analysis is provided by Helix, a company that performs personal genetic assessments from saliva samples sent in by customers. Helix stores the DNA analysis, then makes it available to partner enterprises, such as Exploragen, for further examination or incorporation with other data. In addition to Exploragen, Helix collaborates with personalized health units at medical centers including Duke University, Mayo Clinic, and Mount Sinai. Helix also partners with National Geographic for ancestry analysis, prenatal genetic testing, and even an app to help select the right wines.

Exploragen was founded last year by Ron Andrews, a veteran of life science technology companies Thermo Fisher Scientific, Life Technologies, Clarient, and Roche Molecular Diagnostics. Andrews is the company’s CEO, which in this case means chief exploration officer. Former board-certified genetic counselors Shannon Kieran and Sara Riordan are also company co-founders, now serving as heads of operations and science respectively.

“Consumers want to know how their body is functioning for optimal performance, and DNA is an important indicator of the body’s predispositions,” says Andrews in a company statement. “As people continue to gain access to their DNA, there will be more ways for them to make personal lifestyle choices based on what they discover.”

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