Startup Launches Pathology-driven InnerAge Assessment Tool

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Last week, a Boston-based startup called InsideTracker launched a new health assessment tool that brings analytics and blood tests to the task of predicting lifespan. At first glance, everything about the test and the claims made on the startup’s website seem dubious. The new test, called InnerAge, starts with an at-home blood test. A sample is collected and mailed away for processing. For $99, InsideTracker will analyze glucose, cholesterol (both LDL and HDL), and triglycerides. For $299, the test will also look at cortisol, CRP, and vitamin D. For $499, InsideTracker will run a full panel of more than 30 tests. The lab results are then analyzed and a “true” internal age is calculated. Next, the company claims that by adjusting nutritional intake, for which they will provide personalized recommendations, anyone’s InnerAge can be lowered, effectively adding years back onto your lifespan.

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Why these tests? According to the InsideTracker website, “the brightest minds in aging research have been studying biomarkers and they’ve identified the key markers that contribute to aging.” Over 3,000 biometrics were reportedly evaluated and the team boiled that list down to a handful of tests that correlate with longevity, and that can be influenced through nutritional adjustments. The biggest problem with the InnerAge marketing material though is that none of this data is independently substantiated. There is no clinical research data that explains how glucose, LDL, HDL, and triglycerides can be used to accurately predict lifespan, and nothing that validates that the company’s “InnerAge” metric does in fact correlate with longevity.

All that being said, it should come as no surprise that having well-managed glucose, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels correlates with a longer lifespan. Each is a known risk factor for heart disease, stroke, or diabetes. The CDC lists heart disease, stroke, and diabetes among the leading causes of death in the US, so perhaps the team at InsideTracker did develop an algorithm that can precisely predict lifespan based on these biomarkers.

The scientists behind InsideTracker are a powerhouse of Harvard, MIT, and Oxford researchers and statisticians, which in and of itself lends some credibility to the claims. David Sinclair, PhD is a professor at Harvard Medical School with seven startups under his belt, including three that are publically traded and one that sold to GlaxoSmithKline for $720 million. Michael Pavia, PhD is the entrepreneur-in-residence at Oxford Bioscience and was a VP at Eli Lilly prior to that. Lenny Guarente, PhD is an MIT biology professor and has more than 200 publications on aging and metabolism to his name. The list goes on and on, and all of them contributed to the “InnerAge” analytics.

From a team that well respected, it’s hard to imagine that the science behind the new digital health service isn’t well researched and appropriately validated, in which case, it’s a significant contribution to personalized medicine.


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