Igentify, Genosity cooperate to bring precision medicine to all markets

Written by on November 5, 2020

The company does all the necessary genetic leg work to produce accurate data and then present them to the user in a digitally friendly way.

The secret to healing what ails you lies within your own DNA (photo credit: DREAMSTIME)

The secret to healing what ails you lies within your own DNA

(photo credit: DREAMSTIME)

Israeli digital health company Igentify will cooperate with US-based biotech firm Genosity to deliver the next step in precision medicine to all markets. Precision medicine is a new trend in the healthcare industry, Igentify director of partnerships Yael Furman told The Jerusalem Post.

“Imagine a person suffering from a headache,” she said, “that person would take an aspirin. The drug is produced for all people who suffer from a headache. Yet in some cases, such as cancer, it’s extremely useful to know the genetic profile of the patient as that would make the treatment a lot more effective.”

This still means mass-produced drugs for the most common genetic types in a given population, but perhaps drugs will eventually be made for the unique individual who needs them. 

The trend is coupled with other leaps and bounds medicine is going through thanks to big data and the digital age. For example, a woman who has a genetic likelihood to suffer from breast cancer could get digital “pushes” in the form of texts and emails that will remind her to get tested. Better and more frequent testing saves lives.  

“People see our animated videos and forget the mountain of work that goes into genetic research,” Igentify founder and CEO Dr. Doron Behar explains.  

“The videos are important because we want people to understand what the genetic test is, what will happen to their data, and to give their informed consent. Yet that is just the last step – what we do much more,” he said.

“There are only 7,000 genetic counselors in the world today,” Behar said. “This is a huge bottle neck that prevents people from having access to, and benefiting from, their own genetic data. Machine learning can take some of that burden off and deliver the service to more [people].”

IGENTIFY HELPS medical service providers to set up the complex systems needed to decipher such data – from cheek swabs to lab robots to machine learning that is able to scan most possibilities of human genetic material creating a new life.   

“We use cheek swabs because they’re easier to do than blood samples and give us cells from the human cheek,” he explains, “it’s not the spit we’re after, it’s cells. Each cell has your entire genome in it.”  

If a man and a woman are thinking about having a baby together and if they have access to a genetic testing service, it could predict what is the likelihood of the yet-unborn child having a genetic disease based on the genetic analysis of both parents.  

A woman could use a simple cheek swab to learn if she is at risk of suffering from breast cancer. The information is presented in a friendly and easy to understand animated video that has a lot of planning behind it.   

“We’re able to offer this service not just in other languages but also with different avatars,” Behar pointed out. Meaning, a Yiddish language video can be used with an ultra-Orthodox animated couple, or a Mandarin speaking video with an Asian-looking couple.  

“Eventually, you will have your own avatar that would present you with your own genetic data, and that data would be in a digital folder that would travel with you,” he explained, “for example, if you get a job overseas or change cities.”  

If the data is hard to understand or bear, a user is invited for a face-to-face meeting with a genetic counselor. Nobody will ever get a cheery animated film informing them they have Cystic fibrosis, or that they have a 90% probability to suffer from breast cancer.  

“The video is also a good educational tool,” Behar explained. “When you meet a medical doctor and are presented with a lot of data, you might forget or be intimidated. We offer you something you can re-watch at home with the family. We also offer good online data for those who want to learn more about their unique condition.”  

While the exact sums involved in the deal were not released, Behar did say the market is valued at tens of billions of dollars worldwide and grows by 12% every year.  

“Digital health is worth billions,” he explained: “We’re all going to need it in the future.”  

What the Israeli and American companies produce together is a complete package that allows a medical service or center to bring the future of genetic medicine to their clients.  

He said that the firm was created in 2016 with seed money from aMoon, OurCrowd Qure, and Silver Tech Ventures, adding that Open Valley was also a very important partner.

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