Personalized nutrition is the future. Currently, the model for pharmaceutical companies is treatment that will work for most patients, while modern wellness is moving toward a model that determines if a treatment works for an individual patient. Personalized nutrition equips consumers with the knowledge and power to make choices about desired actions as it relates to customized individual health and wellness; the making of “the citizen doctor.”
Major disruptors exist in every industry. Firms such as Uber, Spotify and AirBnB have turned age-old industries on their heads. We should expect the same in the health space. However, the health industry faces unique challenges. For one, the market is highly regulated, making it slow to change. Second, the lack of shared data hinders growth. Third, quality assurance (QA) is key. These roadblocks to progress are set to ensure the highest level of care and privacy for consumers.
This empowerment to the patient is now occurring because consumers can analyze their DNA at a reasonable cost, which was unheard of a few years ago. The tools of personalized nutrition can be evaluated in five major areas that can be innovated using data:
- Gene sequencing
- Brain mapping
- Vitals tracking
- Big data
- Genetic customization
These tools rely on the advancement of technology and the complexity of computers to lead the charge. On the surface, taking this approach to developing new ingredients is costly and time consuming. However, it quickly becomes clear that personalized nutrition is not only better for consumers, but is also great for nutrition brands’ returns on investments (ROIs). Personalized nutrition allows patients to be treated to their own specifications, rather than in a generalized way, which may not be effective. Imagine being able to use exactly the right amount of a nutrient, and thereby reducing the amount of waste and ensuring efficacy.
An example is with curcuminoid as a personalized supplement. First, one’s personal situation is analyzed. Then, genome sequencing adds additional information. DNA-based variations in the genes or enzymes impact different consumers in a variety of ways. Knowing ahead of time if a patient will have an adverse reaction to treatment allows doctors and consumers to make a better-informed decision on the optimal dose or treatment. The curcuminoid is analyzed using rapid separation liquid chromatography (RSLC) technology, and other fingerprinting technology. This step is key. Rather than assuming each each plant is perfectly uniform, it assumes imperfections are in the system. This testing allows for quality control (QC) at the end product, not at the origin. The end game is efficient and cost-efficacy. Both the consumer and the supplier will see the upside of this.
If all the RSLC and fingerprinting technology were visible via a scanner on product packaging, and this was then tied in to a DNA kit, the dosage of ingredient best matched to the consumer would be visible, and the consumer would know how to take the curcuminoid (with milk, water, food, etc.), what time of day, and in what dosage form (powder, capsule, tablet, etc.).
DNA variations in genes or enzymes impact individuals differently. So, knowing ahead of time if a consumer has adverse reactions to a particular ingredient or even an individual molecule can help the consumer take preventative measures. In sports nutrition, if a consumer knows that a specific strain of curcumin will support her joints more efficiently, then she is apt to look only for that particular curcumin in her nutraceutical. Thus, consumers are understanding their own bio-markers before symptoms appear.
Personalized medicine can help reduce the between the pharmaceutical industry, food beverage firms and nutraceuticals. The pharmaceutical industry has healthy margins, but is concerned with trying to increase revenue and broaden markets. Consumer product firms typically have larger market segments, but are trying to increase profit by medicalizing food. Nutraceuticals are at an intersection of both these areas. Personalized medicine is the point where both consumer and pharmaceutical can reach equilibrium. This is, in part, because of all the testing personalized medicine requires. The testing is two-fold. First, it allows for patients to have the most accurate and precise treatment. Second, it gives the health care industry the ability to learn from various testing procedures and to develop more complex analysis. The greatest perk of personalized nutrition is that it pushes the industry to move forward.
Rajiv Khatau is managing director at LODAAT Pharma, a research firm specializing in botanical ingredients, generic pharmaceuticals and natural medicine. The LODAAT science team was awarded Best Exporter by The State of Illinois (2014, and 2016). Lodaat was honored at the AMERICAN EXPRESS GROW GLOBAL conference in 2015, is an official Knowledge Partner to CPHI Pharmaceutical conferences (the largest Global Pharmaceutical event).