As medical technology becomes increasingly digitised, simple procedures such as health check-ups can often get overlooked. Not for long though, as these will soon get a makeover with new online platform, Omixy, founded by Paris-based GP and business superwoman Dr Lavinia Ionita. Set to launch this year, Omixy introduces genomics to patient testing, providing a more holistic approach to personalised medicine
Traditional medicine, as we know it, is based on ‘standards of care’, a generalisation of the best courses of prevention or treatment for the average patient. You go to your GP complaining of fatigue. She will then probably check your red blood cell count and your iron levels, and advise you to get plenty of rest and take magnesium supplements.
While this treatment may work for you, it isn’t guaranteed to work for the next patient complaining of the same symptoms, which instead may be caused by hormonal stress, not magnesium deficiency. Yet you will both be prescribed the same treatment because medical protocols dictate that the most common treatment should be prescribed for all cases of fatigue on the first visit to the GP.
The medical world is becoming more and more critical of this one-size-fits-all medicine, characterised by a lack of substantial tests carried out on the patient. Studies show that a growing percentage of patients with some of the most common diseases don’t respond to the first treatment they are prescribed: for instance, 43 per cent of Type 2 diabetes cases, 50 per cent of arthritis cases, and 70 per cent of Alzheimer’s cases.
Enter personalised or genomic medicine. Unlike traditional medicine, personalised medicine emphasises how our health is unique to each of us, and that our predisposition to certain diseases is caused by our genomic make-up.
‘The majority of diseases build up over many years, so the lapse of time is very precious — the early detection and chance to do something to prevent the disease from developing. In many cases, people’s attitudes towards health are the same as the model of the healthcare system — outdated. But we are seeing an increased desire for change from the patient rather than from the other side,’ says Dr Lavinia Ionita, founder of Omixy, a startup promoting health check-ups based on genomic medicine.
A holistic approach
Dr Ionita has been a GP in Paris for 12 years. She holds a Master’s degree in Addictology from the University of Paris-V and another in Clinical Psychology and Psychopathology from the University of Paris-VIII. Frustrated by the shortcomings of traditional medicine, she decided to take a more holistic approach to her practice, dedicating more time to each individual check-up in order to have a more ‘global’ view of her patients’ health. By carrying out more in-depth medical tests, as well as discussing their overall lifestyle and health needs, she managed to get a clearer context of their conditions and thus prescribe personalised treatments to each individual.
But Dr Ionita never felt her true calling was necessarily in general practice. ‘Even when I was a medical student and was choosing as a specialty, I felt disappointed that I didn’t have a clear gut feeling about what I wanted to do,’ she admits.
‘Later on in my career, I started to think about traditional medicine in our time and how it’s not really focused on personalised follow-up treatment, personalised care or on prevention. Then I had my eureka moment.’
She decided to build on her passion for personalised medicine and make it possible for more people to have access to the medical advances of genomic science. In 2015, she went on to obtain a certificate in Genetics and Genomics from Stanford University and later that year she founded Omixy.
‘Many people are struggling to receive good healthcare, or they are ambivalent towards their health. They need to be empowered to take control of their health but they need to have good tools to do this.’
Online tool for healthier lives
Omixy was designed as an online tool to help patients have longer, healthier and happier lives. You fill in an online questionnaire about your state of health, then a nurse comes to your home and collects blood, saliva, urine and stool samples, which are then sent to a lab where one of Omixy’s specialists will carry out a series of state-of-the-art analyses.
What makes these analyses state-of-the-art? The fact that these tests also look at your genomic sequencing (DNA), microbiome (bacteria populations in your body), and metabolomics (the smallest molecules in your body) to produce a personalised diagnosis at a molecular level.
‘We want to better understand the person’s physiology and give better advice. Everybody knows that it’s good to eat vegetables and proteins, but they don’t really know how their metabolism works,’ Dr Ionita explains.
Once the analyses are completed, the doctor will contact you personally and go over the data-rich results, explaining everything in detail so you can have a whole picture of your state of health. Then a series of online check-ups follow throughout the year.
Omixy’s platform will be the first API (Application Programming Interface) that doctors can use to make decisions based on Big Data for their patients in the fields of genomics, metabolomics and the other ‘omics’ science.
Genomics service to go global
The online medical check-up tool will launch in the second quarter of this year in London and will then slowly expand to the rest of Europe and hopefully globally afterwards. It will start off as a business-to-business service, available by yearly subscription for companies to offer to their employees.
‘We already have a few internal doctors — GPs and specialists alike — on our platform, but we will also have a network of external doctors, built through partnerships, who will be able to see these patients.’
Omixy will be the first service of its kind available in Europe. Its sole competitor in terms of objective is Human Longevity, which is the first company on a global level to apply genomics to their patient testing. ‘Their tests, however, are very expensive, and patients have to go to a clinic to be tested. This might seem like a minor detail, but one of Omixy’s key goals is to re-centre the focus on the patient, by having a nurse come to you at your home or office, whichever is most convenient to you,’ says Dr Ionita.
‘While the costs of testing are still high, they’re in the range of traditional yearly health assessments for executives. But Omixy’s check-up is infinitely more comprehensive and useful from a long-term standpoint. I’m also confident that as more tests are performed, prices will come down, and that scaling Omixy into as many countries as possible will create leverage with labs and make these tests very affordable.’
Originally published at medtechengine.com.