Innovation is part of $400 million international Digital Life Alliance aimed at producing a personalized health guide
What if your smartphone could tell you that a potential disease or illness is lurking in your immune system? What if instead of contracting diabetes, you were able to stop it before it compromised your health — maybe even before you or your physician see any outward signs? This is the driving idea behind an international group of scientists, inventors and entrepreneurs that will soon change the way we understand our health.
An Arizona State University discovery is central to the launch of this invention that “will give people a deeper understanding of the medical, behavioral and environmental factors that can accelerate disease or optimize health,” according to a recent announcement by Jun Wang (pictured above), iCarbonX founder and creator of the Digital Life Alliance, based in Shenzhen, China.
ImmunoSignature, the diagnostic platform developed by ASU Biodesign Institute research scientists Stephen Albert Johnston and Neal Woodbury, was the final piece needed to complete this potentially revolutionary approach to health care. With a single drop of blood, this diagnostic powerhouse can detect diseases that involve an immune response (autoimmune, cancer, infectious disease, metabolic and neurologic diseases).
“My goal has always been to detect illness before it begins,” said Johnston, who is also a professor in the School of Life Sciences. “In other words, I would like to see the concept of the patient become extinct. That is the only way we can truly stop the relentless increases in the cost of health care. With this new alliance, we are closer than ever.”
Johnston predicts that the technology to track and report disease biomarkers directly to patients could be available within five years.
Backed by a $400 million investment, the Digital Life Alliance, which includes HealthTell as one of seven core companies, will “merge genetic, biological and patient-generated data with sequencing and AI (artificial intelligence) technology to instantly detect meaningful signals about health, disease and aging, and deliver a personalized guide for living a healthy life,” according to Wang.
“Who could have imagined 10 years ago that with the right diagnostic, a single drop of blood could detect 50 different diseases?” said ASU President Michael Crow. “Scientists with expertise, imagination and boundless aspiration are who we recruit to Arizona, ASU and Biodesign. Today, we are being recognized as a powerhouse in the world of innovation and for generating use-inspired solutions. iCarbonX’s significant investment in technologies conceived at ASU is a real demonstration of what can happen when public and private enterprises bring their best minds together.”
It is estimated the U.S. alone spends $3.2 trillion for health care. Organizers say this new innovation to catch diseases early will result in not only in mammoth cost savings, but most importantly, will save lives and help eradicate the challenges faced by those who suffer from illness.
The Biodesign Institute represents the state’s largest single investment in research infrastructure in the history of Arizona. The Biodesign Institute launched in 2004 with $69 million from the state’s Technology and Research Innovation Fund.
According to Johnston, HealthTell’s high-density peptide array platform is the first real-time assessment that will be simple, inexpensive and comprehensive. The HealthTell technology, particularly when combined with data from the other Digital Life Alliance partners, has the potential to enable health monitoring using a single drop of blood that is analyzed on a regular basis. The route to this discovery has been published in Nature Communications and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.