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#126 | Precision Medicine via AI Health Simulations | Nathan Price PhD of Thorne HealthTech

Healthspan is all the rage now but beyond a healthy lifestyle what does that really mean? How can it be done? And what can I do now to ward off problems before the illness shows up?

Today on episode 126, I am joined by Nathan Price, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer of Thorne HealthTech and co-author of the book, The Age of Scientific Wellness (2023). If there is anyone on the planet who can tell us how we can make this shift from merely treating illness to keeping ourselves healthy for a long, active life……Dr Price is just that person.

Dr Price has been at the forefront of creating Precision Medicine as a co-founder of Arivale and Associate Director of the Institute of Systems Biology, and now he is helping Thorne to bring Precision Medicine to you and me.

In case you don’t remember, Arivale was that way ahead of its time company that offered ongoing wellness and nutritional coaching tailored to the results of each person’s genetic, blood and microbiome tests. Actual personalized medicine.

Today, most doctors wait for clinical symptoms to appear before they act, and the ten most commonly prescribed medications confer little benefit to most people taking them. Nathan Price (and his co-author Leroy Hood) argue that we must move beyond this reactive, hit-or-miss approach to usher in real precision health―a form of highly personalized care they call “scientific wellness.” Using information from our blood and genes and tapping into the data revolution made possible by AI, doctors can catch the onset of disease years before symptoms arise, revolutionizing prevention. They say this approach is just getting started but has already had amazing results: diabetes reversed, cancers eliminated, Alzheimer’s avoided, autoimmune conditions kept at bay.

All right, let’s talk to Nathan Price about the technologies emerging this year and his thoughts on what wise athletes can do right now to slow the rate of aging.

Bullet points

  • Scientific Wellness — a remaking of healthcare from reactive, reductionist reducing of symptoms … to… figuring out how to keep people healthy while they are healthy…extend the span of time in health…”healthspan”
  • Thorne Ventures…dedicated to launching a platform for health ventures
  • Learned a ton from thousands of measurements over many years
  • The most commonly prescribed drugs have a wide variety of effectiveness on individuals for many reason: microbiome, genome, etc.
  • In 13% of prescribed drugs (including statins), the drug is transformed in the gut by bacteria before being absorbed. So the effect on each person is dependent upon the bacteria in the gut
  • Once a person hits 50, a healthy person’s gut microbiome begins to be less and less like anyone else’s gut microbiome.
  • There is no average person
  • Examples:
  • LDL cholesterol lowering:
    • Genome identification of individuals with predisposition for high LDL….no way to lower LDL by lifestyle alone…need medication
  • Weight loss:
    • People with gut microbiome’s (identified with fecal matter testing) that produced more SCFA lose weight more successfully
  • Individual testing to find personalized health solutions:
    • Genetic testing
    • Normal blood markers for health
    • Metobolomics — 1000 small molecules….chemical markers in blood
    • Several 100 Proteins — Proteomics in blood (for discovery purposes)
  • “Digital Twin” simulations — a computer model of a human being that can comprehend status and changes in biomarkers to predict health issues and identify health interventions for individuals based on genome, blood markers, gut microbiome. For now, building digital twins for specific systems (brain, metabolic health, muscle wasting)….someday the whole human.
  • Alzheimers / dementia is caused by a failure to sustain oxygen profusion in the brain…exercise is protective due to the increase in blood flow….but it isn’t enough.
  • Phosphatidylcholine is a rate limiter on brain energy production. Eat a diet higher in phosphatidylcholine (eggs, red meat, whole grains) to push out development of alzheimer’s. But the wrong bugs in the gut can convert phosphatidylcholine into TMAO which is a cardiovascular health risk factor.
  • Vitamin D — digital twin models show the importance of vitamin D for brain health
  • But a human is so complex that no one thing can make a difference. Just taking phosphatidycholine or just taking vitamin D is not enough. This is why RCTs often fail to show benefit….if the study is not large enough there isn’t enough signal to show an effect even though it is a benefit….more is needed…people are rarely missing or deficient in just one thing.
  • What do to now?
    • Biological age models….make sure the results are actionable…need organ and system level data to be able to find weak links to target
    • Make sure to have no big deficiencies in the lifestyle pillars
    • For the older athlete, eat enough protein (food or protein powder)….probably more than you think you need…to avoid muscle wasting over time
    • Emphasize mitochondrial health in multiple ways….Urolithin A shows promise (not a Thorne product)
    • Get inflammation low…make sure no gut issues contributing to inflammation…Thorne has a gut microbiome test. Day Two is another good test. Omega 3’s can help with inflammation. Quercetin is interesting for inflammation and to deal with scenescent cells in the body. NAD boosters (NR, NMN, etc) to help with DNA repair.
    • Resolve insulin resistance…watch Hba1c
    • Watch apoB to avoid ASCVD
  • 4 big buckets to manage:
    • Cardio-metabolic (insulin resistance, apoB, distribution of particle sizes, bioage, gut microbiome testing, VO2Max — higher is better)
    • Muscle wasting — more muscle mass now to have more room to fall
    • Dementia — brain health. Rapamycin news: helps with brain oxygen profusion (at least for women).
    • Cancer — screen early (Galleri.com) to catch early.

Related info and episodes:

More Nathan Price PhD info:

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The ever curious athlete who demands answers.
About the Author
Curious athlete who demands answers. Husband to Susan (moxiemoms.com). Father of 3 daughters. Athletic pursuits over time, in reverse order: cycling, skiing, mountaineering, rock climbing, triathlon, golf, tennis, football.

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