Direct-to-consumer “Longevity Report” based on proprietary epigenetic testing scores, plans to be first to market.
Recently, we announced that FOXO Technologies and NEOGEN Corporation have collaborated on a large epigenetic testing dataset research project that will examine the association between epigenetic aging and numerous behavioral, lifestyle, dietary and clinical outcomes, as well as key morbidity and mortality outcomes.
Longevity.Technology: Biotech FOXO aims to make longevity science fundamental to life insurance by applying epigenetic science and AI to commercialize saliva-based biomarkers, and the company recently named Erin Sharoni as product manager of FOXO LIFE, a life insurance company that is powered by molecular health technology.
Sharoni will lead FOXO’s consumer-focused health and wellness research goals that deliver compelling user experiences to consumers, and with the worlds of epigenetic testing, personalized health, and hyper-individualized insurance premiums crashed, we sat down with her to find out more.
With NEOGEN, FOXO Technologies has created one of the largest epigenetic datasets in history and it is destined to be a powerful tool. With over 25 years of longitudinal mortality, health and epigenetics data, FOXO LIFE will be able to develop new, more powerful predictive epigenetic testing models.
READ MORE: New research shows epigenetic age can predict cognitive function
“We will also be able to compare the performance of our epigenetic biomarkers against traditional clinical biomarkers and understand the degree of overlap as well as how (and in what contexts) one might perform better than the other,” explains Sharoni.
Sharoni thinks more and more people are becoming aware of the importance – and possibilities – of epigenetic testing.
“It’s an exciting area that is generating a lot of public interest, as evidenced by the range of podcast interviews and media coverage on the subject,” she explains.
“People have long heard the phrase ‘your genes are not your destiny,’ as an assurance that their chromosomal inheritance does not seal their destiny,” says Sharoni, explaining that there is understandably interest in the idea that you have control over how your genes express themselves (the science of epigenetics) through lifestyle choices like diet, sleep, exercise, and stress management.
Erin Sharoni says she is excited about the launch of FOXO LIFE and is really looking forward to seeing how consumers react to the epigenetic testing information that will become available.
“We will be the first to market with an epigenetics-based DTC ‘longevity report’ product that not only includes a picture of a person’s biological age, but also proprietary epigenetic scores that we have developed in-house with the use of deep machine learning technology that provide directional indicators of well-being in the cardiovascular, metabolic, inflammatory, etc. domains,” she says.
Of course, the insurance industry is not without its critics; it may be suspected that insurance companies will use epigenetic testing profiling to increase premiums for “at risk” people rather than reduce premiums for people who take positive steps to improve their health.
However, Sharoni explains that it’s not FOXO’s MO at all.
“We don’t use epigenetic technology to penalize people based on their health status or their rate of aging. It’s a very important distinction for people to understand,” she explains. “The expedited subscription process for the product we are launching is industry standard. The use of epigenetics in our product at launch is limited to consumer engagement; it provides additional value, at no cost to the policyholder, to give them insight into their longevity and well-being without the usual process of collecting invasive blood or urine samples (this which is common in life insurance).
“Because your epigenetic profile changes over time, in response to environmental inputs, it gives people the opportunity to change and improve; it is a dynamic indicator of lifespan/life expectancy, not a fixed indicator inherited at birth. This is an essential distinction.
FOXO’s epigenetic testing analysis is based on a simple at-home test – the company mails the kit, the customer spits into the tube and sends it back.
“The FOXO Lab uses microarray technology to analyze epigenetic signatures in saliva, and the anonymized data is processed by our deep machine learning models and generates the personalized results that are included in your FOXO Longevity Report,” explains Sharoni. “When it’s ready to view, you’ll receive an email reminding you to log in and access your results. It’s very simple and very secure.
Sharoni adds that another unique feature of the product is that FOXO allows the customer to download the raw epigenetic data file in .csv format.
“We believe it’s your data, and you should be free to do with it what you want (taking into account its sensitivity, of course),” she says.