Jo Bhakdi – Quantgene: Extending Human Lifespan By 10 Years Within The Next 10 Years

Content by: Jo Bhadki

Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.

Stu: This week, I’m excited to welcome Jo Bhakdi to the podcast. Jo is the founder and CEO of Quantgene, a biotechnology company with a mission to extend the healthy human lifespan by 10 years within the next 10 years. The company is tackling conventional medicine from scratch and building a new system of Medical Intelligence™  to prevent and detect diseases far earlier than is possible today.

In this episode we discuss the fundamental differences between conventional medicine vs Quantgene’s  innovative early detection technology as a tool to protect ourselves against most diseases, enjoy …

Audio Version

downloaditunes Questions asked during our conversation:

  • How does your Medical Intelligence™ system differ from the usual principles & practices? (12:22)
  • Armed with all of the DNA data, how should we tackle nutrition? (23:42)
  • How are you personally using this technology to enhance your own health? (38:27)

Get More of Jo Bhakdi

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Full Transcript

Stu

00:03

Hey, this is Stu from 180 Nutrition. And welcome to another episode of the health sessions. It’s here that we connect with the world’s best experts in health, wellness, and human performance in an attempt to cut through the confusion around what it actually takes to achieve a long lasting health. Now I’m sure that’s something that we all strive to have. I certainly do.

Before we get into the show today, you might not know that we make products, too. That’s right. We’re into whole food nutrition and have a range of super foods and natural supplements to help support your day. If you are curious, want to find out more, just jump over to our website. That is 180nutrition.com.au and take a look okay. Back to the show.

This week, I’m excited to welcome Jo, back to you to the podcast. Jo is the founder and CEO of Quantgene, a biotechnology company with a mission to extend the healthy human lifespan by 10 years, within the next 10 years. the company is tackling conventional medicine from scratch and building a new system of medical intelligence to prevent and detect diseases far earlier than is possible today. In this episode, we discuss the fundamental differences between conventional medicine versus Quantgene’s innovative early detection technology as a tool to protect ourselves against most diseases. Over to Jo.

Hi guys, this is Stu from 180 Nutrition, and I am delighted to welcome Jo back to the podcast. Jo, how are you?

Jo

01:34

Good, wonderful. How are you?

Stu

01:36

Very well, thank you, very well. First up for all of those that aren’t familiar with you or your work, I would love it if you could just tell us a little bit about yourself, please.

Jo

01:47

Sure. I’m the CEO and founder of Quantgene. We are company a biotechnology, AI and cloud company here in California in Santa Monica. Yeah. We started the company in 2015, that’s five years ago, who can believe it? It’s fast. Time’s flying by fast. Yeah. What we found in 2015, we did some very specific things, mainly cancer detection at early stage in the blood. That was our first big endeavor. And now we are wrapping it up and launching a product this year. But on this very long journey, what we basically found, even very early on, is that there is this unique and powerful confluence of these different factors right now, which is biotechnology sequencing and genetics, AI, Artificial Intelligence, and cloud. And cloud just means the entire software cloud systems that you can bring into this space. And by bringing these three things together, we are opening up a gate into the future of medicine that fundamentally transforms what we think medicine is.

And it’s not just talk, it is reflected in numbers… And ultimately in this new paradigm, that medicine is not just about curing disease, it is about keeping you healthy and alive. So it is about longevity. And through this confluence of factors, we are building superior medical intelligence. We know more about everything, create foresight, understand what’s going on in your body and can prevent bad things from happening and ultimately get to this ultimate mission of Quantgene, which is to extend and protect lives.

And yeah, there’s a lot in there because all the way from technology into business models, into what is healthcare, what is medicine, who practices this new medicine, right? Who are the experts on that and who pays for it? The entire system needs to be rethought. And that makes it even more exciting because where there are challenges, there are also even greater opportunities. So that makes the work very exciting.

Stu

03:51

Very exciting. I’m very intrigued to dig, I think a little bit deeper into all of these areas, particularly the preventative side, because we always say at least at 180 Nutrition, that prevention is the cure. And it’s the very things that we’re doing now, perhaps that might end up causing issues for us 10, 20, even 30 years down the line. So exciting times ahead. So I’m interested then to hear, before we get into the details of that, your thoughts on conventional medicine, where we are right now.

Jo

04:23

Well, I think there are multiple, first of all, I, whenever you talk about medicine, I think, why does medicine have this good and bad reputation it has right now? I think it has this magic still to it. And I think you need to be a little bit a student of history to understand why it’s so powerful. Conventional medicine has completely changed our lives and our civilization more than anything ever has… When you look at what it actually did over the last 150 years, starting mostly in Germany, but also England and some places where they invented modern medicine, Robert Koch, and people liked as [inaudible 00:00:04:59], like the people who invented antibiotics and the ability to defeat infectious diseases.

Stu

05:04

Yes.

Jo

05:04

And that happened at the end of the 1800s and infectious diseases were something far beyond cancer or cardiovascular, anything you know today. Literally everyone was dying all the time, regardless of their social status or anything.

You had seven kids and four died. That’s just baseline end of the 1800s in London, in Berlin, in Paris, not in the third world. In the most developed places on the planet. So it was an enormous curse when you imagine what that means, that all your family constantly just randomly dies, terrible deaths by the way. So when they cured that, when they invented these medications and the vaccines back then, it was a total miracle. It was like, Oh my God, and you see that reflected in the longevity curse, like life expectancy. It went up from 48 years and doubled.

But when now I talk about the problems, I always say like the big revolutions were pills and surgery, but these were the two huge inventions, and hygiene, that doubled human lifespan and that increased 50% human lifespan within the first 50 years of the 20th century. So it was a complete miracle.

The problem is it was such a great success that to this day, we think medicine is an amazing thing because we have this long-term memory as a society and we became very uncritical of what’s actually happening. And when you look at the actual numbers, you see this declining curve of life expectancy gain. And now we are heading in the US a point where you even see a decrease of average life expectancy. And what I like to do is like plot this line from 1890 to 2020 and what you see is in the first 50 years, you’re adding 20 years, right? And the next one you’re adding 10 years, and now you’re adding nothing. So you have a declining curve.

So that narrative that we live in an exponential world of technology, that medicine and biotech and all these amazing things and our giant pharma companies and the healthcare system become more and more efficient. It’s exponential technology. The opposite is true. It’s a rapidly decreasing level of efficiency in medical progress. Medical progress since the 1950s is going down, the rate of progress. Just measured in the ultimate key performance indicator, which is how long do you live? What’s your long, healthy life span? And so it’s actually halfing every 25 years. That is very bad news. It should be the opposite because if you look at internet communication technologies and now rockets after some bad times, but Elon saving the day. So now all that other stuff goes up, but medicine is actually declining. And I think that is the huge disconnect. We see on an underlying level, these exponential technologies like sequencing, cloud technologies, computing powered AI, but they’re not being translated into medical advancements.

I’m just talking now as an economist, it’s just the facts.

Stu

08:17

Yes.

Jo

08:17

The numbers don’t lie, it’s looking very bad. And now comes to the question, why is this happening? And I think it is happening because something is fundamentally broken in healthcare and in biotechnology and in biomedical research. It’s just not working. And when you look behind the scenes, I can talk endlessly about it. But the bottom line is there’s no lean startup principles. There is no real market. There is no real customer and no one pays for innovation. And there are no real entrepreneurs trying to do that.

So the mission of Quantgene is to reintroduce, not just the technology components, but also the economic frameworks and business models that enable that kind of progress. That’s why we, for example, try to start what we do with the self payer model. We want to generate value for people who pay us for that value and the value we deliver needs to be life. We want you to live longer and healthier. You’re going to pay us for it. And the more we help you, the more you can pay us. It’s a beautiful business.

And it’s very different from a bureaucrat sitting somewhere. And I say, “You know what? I want to make Stewart live longer.” And the bureaucrat says, “Yeah, but not with me. I’m not going to pay for that stuff. I don’t want him to live longer.” And then the whole thing stops. Okay, what do you want me to do? And then the bureaucrat, who is your customer, if you do, insurance says, “Well, I want you to drive down my costs and you drive down my cost by either letting Stuart die fast or do something like cut the cost of his pills.” And then you have a misaligned incentives. And then the whole thing goes down.

So that’s kind of the dark secret behind this [inaudible 00:10:01] of progress. It’s not that we don’t have tech. The system doesn’t work because it incentivizes startups and big companies to do exactly the wrong thing.

Stu

10:11

Fascinating, absolutely fascinating. So, and what I’m finding more fascinating as well as that it’s Quantgene’s mission. And if I’m reading it right it’s to extend human lifespan by 10 years within the next 10 years, which is pretty radical claim.

Jo

10:31

Yes. Maybe in Australia and in US, it’s very radical. Everyone says, “Oh, I make you a model. We are actually very serious about this. Can we think we can achieve that? That’s the big difference here. And there is a deeper history behind that. Everything I said before with the arc of history and life extension expectations, if we extend Human lifespan by 10 years, within 10 years, all we did is catch up to the initial trajectory of medicine.

Stu

10:58

Right.

Jo

10:58

All we would do is we get back it on track. We’re not even doing better than before. We’re just doing as well as before. If we then extend it another 10 years in the next decade, after that, then we are slowly starting to be actually better than the trajectory should be.

And the way we want to achieve that is very simple. We are absolutely convinced based on the clinical data we see that what we call real time, medical intelligence, like a vast improvement about the insights and data we have on your health, is required to defeat chronic diseases or to push them back, cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular, neurodegenerative diseases. You need to get ahead of your body’s decline much more effectively. You have to detect cancer much earlier. You have to see any nutritional changes and how they are being reflected in your body, much higher resolution earlier and more robust… Same with diabetes and cardiovascular. And that’s not, it’s absolutely achievable. And we see that already, if we would just detect all top 10 cancers in terms of mortality at early stages, at stage one or two in the blood, across the member population that we would have, we are already nearly at 10 years’ life extension on average.

Stu

12:22

Okay. Right. Very, very interesting. So tell me about medical intelligence, which I’m assuming is your system. So your framework that you use to address the principles and practices that are required to start this health journey as well. So if I came to you today, what would I be expecting from an advice perspective from you? Because right now I’m thinking we’re in a, well, I mean, we operate in the health and wellness space and I’m very mindful that there are so many different facets to good health in terms of how I sleep, what I eat, how I move, how I think, environmental pollutants, social engagement, things like that. So if I came to you, what would you do in terms of, I guess, full body check, almost like a preliminary audit of my entire system. How does it work?

Jo

13:35

So the system we are launching this year is a combination of a blood test, which looks at your circulating cell-free DNA fragments. So that is DNA that was shed into your blood by cells that died in your body, including potentially cancer cells, but also all other cells. And we look at the mutational profile of that cell-free DNA. We are also doing whole exome genetic testing. So

14:00

So we will see all your genes and keep it very, very private by the way. That’s a different topic. And we will take in your medical records, including family history in a much, much more comprehensive way. So we create a much deeper and very new form of dataset because we will see the liquid biopsy. The cell-free DNA component I just mentioned alone, delivers about six billion unique data points. So these, and I’m referring to nucleotides on your DNA fragments, where we see exactly how many mutations of [inaudible 00:14:37] you have in the blood, which reflects how your cells actually died that ended up in your blood, which reflects is it tumor? Is it inflammation? What is it? And that’s the first step to get to a whole new level of medical intelligence. The second part is the intelligence. So here’s the data, but then what do you do with the data?

And so we have a cloud system that is AI enabled, and that is connected to a whole set of very deep datasets, some proprietary from our clinical studies. So we are one of the companies with one of the largest clinical trials in cell-free DNA. 10,000 patients across 15 different cancer types. So we have proprietary original data on how these profiles actually look like, how does a cancer profile look and the blood [inaudible 00:15:25] another one, but not a random cancer profile, but one that is enabled with these six billion data points. And we also connected to genetic databases and we connected to all of global medical research, PubMed. So we see over 25 million peer reviewed studies and articles and publications, and the AI [inaudible 00:15:45] takes your entire profile. It takes your genetics and it takes your cell-free DNA profile, extracts the information into vectors and then runs it against all of global science and gets us back the results in real time.

And that means after we do your annual checkup, we do your genetics once of course, you only need to do that once [crosstalk 00:16:08] is ongoing, and then you have this annual checkup with the cancer related tests, but we have an ongoing AI intelligence check every week because you have always new science coming out that tells us if anything new is found. And that, the totality of that leads to, in our opinion, we have to prove all these things. We proved that in clinical trials, but once we deploy it there’s another level of truth we have to validate, but it gives us tremendous insight. It makes it very likely that … well it definitely adds a much higher probability that we detect cancer early stage if you develop any.

It makes it possible to see all kinds of things through your genetics? Like what prescription drugs do you take? Is that compatible with your genome? Is it compatible with each other, these prescription drugs? So a different topic. In other words, we are doing what medicine was supposed to do some time ago, to take all your medical data, add very deep additional data through new biotechnology components and give it intelligence that goes far beyond any doctor brand you could get.

And that’s kind of how we view the paradigm. Medicine at its core, the way we see it, is a data engineering problem. You have a set of inputs and you want to maximize how many inputs and you want to maximize the depth and precision of these data dimensions. So for example, instead of you going to a doctor and say “Oh, I’ve pain here and here, my shoulder looks a little weird.” It is very different to see six billion high precision nucleotides, it’s just a completely different body. And then you want to connect this, expand the dataset with an intelligence that goes far, far, far beyond even the best physician on earth, because the best physician on earth cannot read 25 million publications in 10 minutes. At least that would be very surprising.

Stu

18:12

Exactly. What advice might I then expect to receive. So, I have come to see you and I’ve had all manner of testing and it sounds infinitely complex, but these are the things that I know particularly well from my standpoint that I might be struggling with at the moment. Let’s say I’m on my mobile phone till midnight and it disrupts my sleep. I have a highly processed diet, full of sugar and vegetable oils and inflammatory ingredients. I don’t exercise. I’m feeling depressed. I live in a mouldy home and that’s just the start of my problems. Would we discuss these things? Would you pick up on these things? Because if I have the best data in the world, but I’m doing the worst processes and practices in my own home, there’ll be a disconnect there.

Jo

19:04

Yes. That’s an excellent question. So Quantgene, the way we view it is we are building the future of medicine here and we have to start somewhere. There are all these amazing, amazingly important topics you mentioned. What we decided to do is we view the whole spectrum, right? We are not just alternative medicine or preventative or nutrition. This is about the real deal which includes all these things. But it has to include chemotherapy oncology. It has to include surgery. It has to include the full on thing. If you don’t do it, you can’t scrape the surface. That’s my main, it’s not a criticism, but it’s the big opportunity that we see as a company in the spaces. No one is positioned in a way where it’s uncompromising saying, we need to build the future of medicine. We know how we can do it.

And in order to do it there are no taboos and no carved out fields. You can’t say you do the nutrition, but when it comes down to cancer detection or what treatment, okay, I’m out of this game, this is too complicated.

Stu

20:10

Sure.

Jo

20:11

What we say instead is, of the entire spectrum from prevention, healthy lifestyle, getting toxins out of your life to detection of actual tumors, clinical detection, to treatment of everything, to how you run hospitals, how we build people, where is the sweet spot? And what we found is the sweet spot is … On the scale you have prevention, you have early detection, and then you have treatment. The treatment is like, okay, then you’re talking about hardcore, drugs and all kinds of stuff. We think for many reasons that’s not the best place to start. And prevention is nice, but it’s too soft, right? for getting in there.

So we believe the sweet spot to get it started in both directions is in the middle, right? When you transition from prevention to treatment, which is this early diagnostics thing, because it’s a nice blend between being very hardcore. You’re talking about biopsies and surgeries and things that follow up if you find something. Where we can add tremendous value and protect patient lives tremendously, very measurably. But at the same time it’s let’s say complex enough and data-driven enough and preventative enough that the conventional medicine completely fails at it. And so that’s the sweet spot. You’re right at the transition between these two worlds. And once we nail that and have a strong business model, you can show that this preventative mindset that’s very intelligence and probabilistic driven actually generates clinical value that is hard, measurable on the other side.

And that’s how you build it out. Once you have that secured, through early detection mostly, you prove to the critics, to real clinicians, right? Okay, what are you going to say like, we have them all early stage and look at the survival rates and the mortality is down. No one can argue with that. Whereas at the same time, you open up this beautiful future space of complex statistical deep intelligence driven medicine, which opens the flood Gates into all kinds of amazing things. Because from there we can go into nutrition and we can go into toxins and mold and all these things because we can tie them into real hard data. [crosstalk 00:22:27] we find a mutation profile that flags towards maybe early stage cancer, and we find it, we have that profile. If we sees someone else with a similar profile but slightly less elevated where we can’t really argue it’s cancer yet, but we can show and tie that profile with the change in nutrition, or we bring it down, the mutations, through nutrition.

What it does, why it’s so powerful, you connected that hard clinical outcome now with software components like, like nutrition for example. And that’s exactly what you can’t do right now. If you eat more candy, if switch from processed food and McDonald’s or something to nice K juices. Yeah. You might feel better, but how do you get hard clinical data for that?

Stu

23:15

Right.

Jo

23:16

Very difficult. And if you have hard clinical data for these mutation profiles and can clearly show cancer detection outcomes and treatment outcomes, and then link that to your nutrition. Suddenly you have a tool that has six billion data points resolution that’s very likely to reflect the change in diet, but we can now tie this change in diet into real stuff. Right? That’s very measurable. And then you’ll know how to investigate this.

Stu

23:42

What are your thoughts at the moment then, on nutrition? Because, nutrition is in the same compass as religion. There are so many opposing views and there’s propaganda coming from both sides from the plant-based vegetarian and vegan camp, all the way over to the other side of the spectrum that would be carnivore. There’s still lots of confusion about which diet offers, I guess, the best approach, the most nutrients based upon our genetic coding. And we still don’t know which way we should be eating. Some people say “You’ve got to eat more plants.” And then the carnivores are saying, “Well no, plants are full of toxins.” And so we still don’t know. So with all of that data that you’re managing to extract from our DNA, where do you sit from a nutritional perspective?

Jo

24:41

So I can just throw a bunch of first principles that you unstructured, right? So the first, first principle here is we are leaving now the realm of science into the realm of my personal observation of an N of one and a little bit of speculation. So just to pass-

Stu

24:57

Okay.i love N of one.

Jo

25:00

Number two, for me it’s pretty obvious that I’m 100% convinced that nutrition plus a little exercise, plus your social wellbeing, your mental and social wellbeing. That these are the three central drivers of your longevity. There’s just no … and then of course some hard medicine to make sure if you have a tumor detected early because otherwise you have a little problem. But these three, they set you up, they make sure that you’re good and nutrition might be the most important one. I think then social wellbeing, and then exercise.

So on the nutrition side, I think, my observation is it’s, there are some things that are true for everyone, like, don’t eat plutonium for example. I can guarantee you that you will not find someone who prospers on that. So, and there are some things that are not true for everyone. We had the personalized thing, and I think what is true for everyone is eat organic, pesticides are not going to help you. Also, the food chain is messed up. I think what’s true is that we did overbreeding so people are concerned about GMO. What they don’t get, I think sometimes, is that if you breed plants it is genetic manipulation.

Stu

26:22

Yes.

Jo

26:23

Right? The difference between taking out a nucleotide and putting another in, while breeding something over a hundred years, what did you do? You manipulated it genetically.

Stu

26:30

Yes.

Jo

26:31

Like dogs, right? They’re manipulated wolves. And this overbreeding led to, I think, problems in the food supply chain on the wheat side, for example, and these things, I think wheat was actually not unhealthy 200 years ago, and now it’s probably not good. And that’s a problem. So when it comes to meat versus vegan and all these things, I’m definitely not on the vegan side. And I’m also definitely not fully on the meat side. I think people are clearly different, men and women are clearly different here. I think we are clearly multi-verse so we are not made for not eating meat. At the same time meat is very easy to mess up in industrial production and make it very bad.

Stu

27:17

Yeah.

Jo

27:18

My personal take as someone who’s deeply involved in health and medicine, I like to disentangle environmental concerns from health concerns, because you need to think about things separately, right?

Yeah. Maybe destroy the planet with too many cows, but that’s not what we are talking about here. This is a different topic and this needs to be considered separately. Like, okay, maybe cows are super healthy to eat we should know that. If they then destroy the planet and kill us all, that’s a separate topic. Don’t mix it up. And my personal take on it is I really watch the food I eat. I tend to get grains out, not rice

28:00

That rice it’s not bad for me, but any kind of other grain is I just feel bad. And what I learned to do is be very aware and cognizant of how you eat and when you eat how much you eat and how you source it and be extremely observant, what it does to your body. And you have to study yourself and your reaction become very aware and keep engineering your thing. So for me, I’m sure it’s not true for everyone. I like a mixed diet. We have if clean, pure carbohydrates, like brown rice, organic, where I eat a little chicken with it and I eat a little broccoli or like some greens with it. And I try to balance it out in a pretty normal balanced diet. And I like three meals a day with two snacks in between and nothing in between these five things and the snacks, a handful of almonds and an Apple.

And that keeps me pretty healthy and reasonably slim. And there’s actually a diet I got from here from a company in LA that helps celebrities and other people. I thought, well, if they get the celebrities in shape, maybe they can get me. So, so in the end of the diet that worked for me was basically what my grandma would have told me, my precious grandma from Germany, she would have said, “well, just eat like a bread, like a little cabs and something in the morning, and then have lunch and have dinner, not too much, don’t overeat and have little snacks in between two. And that’s it don’t eat stupid things in between and don’t eat crap.” So the most normal diet, well portioned and with the right ingredients did the job for me. So everything like intermittent fasting and keto and vegan and what only meat. I mean, it just doesn’t make too much sense to me, in my opinion, because maybe for Eskimos or something…

I think they are genetic sub populations that are trained to eat in a very, more extreme way. And I think the genetic adaptivity is very high. If you have eight generations in Iceland, I’m sure you will want different food. So I tell everyone be cautious and listen to your own body. But I think the majority of humanity will probably prosper and thrive on a pretty balanced diet.

Stu

30:31

Yeah. Now that’s good advice. It’s certainly, it’s very easy. I think to be… To stumble into any given extreme diet on the want to hopefully find radical change or resolution in something. But certainly I think what you’ve, I think you said just don’t eat crap. Well, that’s, that’s probably one of the most important things that you’ve said when we’ve been talking about nutrition as well. And I think it’s important to pay attention to that statement because there’s a lot of crap out there, unfortunately.

Jo

31:05

Yeah. And crap is not I mean, once you get it, it’s not hard to identify crap like it like busy, not crap is if you go nice, like higher end grocery store in LA, what do you don’t get crap. You get brown rice, little spinach and little salmon. So there is no crap in there. If it’s like some weird sauce, barbecue sauce with no fructose corn syrup, then it’s getting sketchy. And if it’s like something you can see where this thing grows because it’s like a pin or something-

Stu

31:39

Absolutely right. Yeah. Eat, eat real food. That’s what we say, whole foods. So I’m talking, we’re interested in, in the DNA testing services. And I know that you, you have a product called serenity. I would be interested to hear the fundamental differences. And I know you’ve touched on, on a number of them previously, the fundamental differences to the DNA testing services that currently exist that say swab inside of your mouth, send it back to us, download an app. And we’ll tell you what you should eat, what you shouldn’t eat and the supplements that you should take.

Jo

32:24

Yes. I mean, this is, we have this one product called serenity genetics, which is a whole exome sequencing tests. So we can ever talk about this in a second. Then we have serenity liquid biopsy, which is the cancer detection test, which is not genetics. It’s looking at genomes, but it’s not. It’s a different thing. In both cases, death is a general principle. What we see in the industry is people like to jump the gun. They say give me your genes and tell you what to eat.

Stu

32:54

Yes.

Jo

32:55

This is not sound medical advice or research, right? It’s just doesn’t work like that. It’s like saying, give me your blood, I tell you if you have cancer. Unfortunately it’s not that simple. We do not say these things we say in liquid biopsy, give us your blood and we will detect with a single molecule accuracy or more than three and a half-thousand cancer associated locations on the genome.

If you have any mutations that are associated with cancer, that is the exact description would be guaranteed. The question, if that is actually cancer, if you can detect it. And all these things become very complicated. And that’s where we have experts that actually talk to you through a telemedicine portal. Every time you do a test, including on the genetic side, very similarly, our test is the only clinical grade whole exome sequencing test. That also includes clinical analysis of everything we find for under a $1000 in the world. That is very different from all these consumer tests. They are not even clinically grade. So if they find anything, you’re not even allowed to act on it as a doctor-

Stu

34:01

I see.

Jo

34:02

Because it doesn’t use the technology that has reliable results. So the first thing is you need to be reliable through, you need to invest more in deeper depth of sequencing to make sure it’s actually true, which most of them don’t, if they do it, it’s quite clinical grade.

And if they do clinical grade, the next problem is… We look at roughly 30 million nucleotides on your genome. That is 1% of the genome, but it’s a 100% of the coding regions. So a 100% of your genes, the risk non-coding regions. The vast majority of tests out there, including the clinical grade tests, look at a tiny fraction of that. So we have nine, 19,300 genes, roughly, which has all your genes and 23andMe, for example, they look at 400 or less genes and then they look only at very small pieces of the genes because they don’t know how to do this clinical analysis. Because once you have tens of thousands of variants who looks through them and decides on these things and so that’s where our AI and cloud systems come in, that we can actually do this analysis in a much more AI centered way and do not have to hire a genetic counselor to go through 15,000 variants and read 10 papers per variant, and then come back to you in a year.

Stu

35:17

Right.

Jo

35:18

So it is very important. That’s why it’s cloud AI and biotech that’d we merged, otherwise you can’t get results back to you. And so everything we do at serenity is clinical grade and physician and counselor driven because that’s the only way to generate real value. At the same time, we try to minimize costs. Of course, we are significantly more expensive than like 23andMe, for example, but we also significantly cheaper than any cancer clinic would charge you for like an uncle panel for genetics. And we do much, much more, much cheaper. So it’s 799 bucks for whole exome sequencing, including legal and as they normally would pay $ 25,000.

Stu

36:02

Yeah, thousands.

Jo

36:04

So, that’s kind of our quick pitch. We’re doing clinical grade, we’re doing everything and we are not dropping the ball after you will have your genes for the rest of your life. We will not share it with everyone. What’s very important. You don’t sign some secret term. We can sell it to Pfizer. Like most other people actually make you sign that. And we also don’t give it to governments even if required, because we have a system delete your data, that if it comes to that, so they can get it as we protect the privacy of our customers.

And yeah, and I think that’s kind of the approach. Like if you are serious about that stuff, then you should come to us. If you want a little tool where it’s like, Oh, it’s, but it’s only 99 bucks. And it tells me I should eat carrots, then go to app [inaudible 00:36:54] .

Stu

36:54

Yes, no. Absolutely. No. It’s great to hear the definition description and distinction between the two, because there are so many emerging and an existing cheap and cheerful alternatives out there on the market today. So…

Jo

37:10

So a paradigm, maybe just, if I can add this very quickly, it’s a paradigm where we believe there are very smart consumers out there who are highly educated, who understand science better than some doctors and to want high quality tools and who want access, direct access to deep science plus counseling; so they have experts helping them. That’s exactly our tag group, who we are for. So we are not for people who just want a quick little give or just tell me what to do. I am for people who say, this is my life.

Stu

37:10

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jo

37:44

If I mess it up, I’m dead. That’s very bad. I’m also intelligent. And I can afford a little bit of money, not crazy math, but I’m willing to do this. But for me, this is a long-term effort that I aggregate deep insights into my personal body and life and genes and overtime aggregate true medical intelligence and have a bunch of a team of experts supporting me in that. We all agree on that no one knows everything. This is evolving, it’s complex science, right? And serenity is the best way to get me into this and keep advancing. So, that’s kind of the positioning. It’s not a give me the opposite of a given.

Stu

38:27

So if you don’t mind sharing, I’m intrigued to hear how you are personally using this technology to your own personal benefit?

Jo

38:39

Well, I mean, we have cancer in the family, unfortunately. So my granddad passed away of pancreatic cancer. My mom passed away of colon cancer. My aunt had breast cancer. My uncle had leukemia, so sounds terrible, but it’s actually statistically very much in the middle of my family.

Stu

38:59

Right.

Jo

38:59

It’s just we’re not… It’s not that no one had ever cancer. It’s like a really significant number of my family members were affected. Unfortunately for everyone, we are not the exception, we are the rule. Like most families are actually having people. And so I’m a little concerned of course, and I’m thinking right to be concerned.

Stu

39:20

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jo

39:20

And I’m 44. So 45 is the thing where you really have to start being aware of cancer, specifically colon cancer as a male and breast cancer woman. And of course I do my liquid biopsies.

I mean now like an obvious thing for me. And it’s still very much in the early stages, but seeing your whole, your own blood and seeing the patients in there and seeing the other like ex should having privilege in my case to have direct access into large clinical trials as we see firsthand at the frontier, like this is a pancreatic cancer patient stage one. This is pancreatic stage two. This is colon cancer stage two. This breast cancer stage three. And how does my blood look like compared to theirs?

It’s kind of amazing to see, and it’s also when I see my blood, yeah. Sometimes there’s like carers mutations, which are like highly like total cancer mutations and you see them in your blood and you freak out like, Ooh, not very good. But then you see the patients and it’s like, well, there is just significantly higher elevations in cancer patients. And then we see all these control patients not diagnosed. They all have little carers fragments in there. So for me, it’s super exciting because I’m watching me very closely obviously. And I can I go through emotionally through these things. The first time I did this, it was a little tricky because you read… I was very well-read in cancer, genetics and then if you do with that level of precision on your blood, you suddenly see, Oh, I have like 220 mutated fragments in my blood that all carry hardcore driver mutations of tumors.

First time you see it as Ooh, this is very irritating, but then you see all these other patients and see while they all have that. And he is actually a cancer patient as like, Oh, they actually have 4,000 of them. Oh, that’s. And so it’s very interesting to see these things and getting used to it. And it’s very important for me to go through that as a patient kind of, because this is a totally new, the level of resolution we generate here is tens of thousands of times higher than any cancer detection test before. Other than competing liquid biopsies but I mean old school, and there are many ethical concerns by many physicians. They say if you do this crazy stuff you’re doing there, like 6 billion data points, of course, you’re going to find tons of things that no one has ever seen. That will freak out everyone. So it’s very important for us personally

Just need to go through this and see … Well, yeah, you have to really think about how you communicate that to put it in context, to show them clinical trial data, where they fit into that whole system. And if they’re really coming to have 4,000 mutations, then you really need to be smart what to do next. You have to really think through as a physician on our side, what do we now tell Stuart what to do? We can’t tell him it’s cancer because it’s very likely not to be true, but there’s unfortunately a good chance, a too high of a chance it is true. So, what do we do next? What is the exact recommendation?

You’re 50, we ask you, “Did you do your colonoscopy?” If you missed your colonoscopy, you say, “Well, now it’s time to do it.” Because it’s the recommended anyway, no reason for concern, but just do it. So there are many ways of managing this, and that’s why it’s so important to have medical professionals on our side involved.

Stu

42:57

Absolutely right. And have you changed any dietary or lifestyle practices given the results that you’ve obtained from these systems?

Jo

43:05

So there’s one, it’s a little personal because it affects other people in my family, but I found something in me, in my genes that tells me not to do something specifically on the drug side that I don’t do. So I would also never do it.

Stu

43:22

Okay.

Jo

43:23

I mean, I would never take a certain type of prescription just because I was always suspicious of it. But another family member was totally taking them. And he’s, well, I can’t say too much, but it was medically advised the official guidelines that he does that. And what we found in my genes is that, I have a metabolic mutation that leads to total drug overdose if you take that at normal dosage. And I think that was very important to pass that knowledge on. And so I met the side effect of this, it’s called pharmacogenetics, that once you have whole exome sequencing, you see all these variants. And there’s a very large data set over 900,000 prescription drugs in there, that links these drugs to certain variants on your genes. This is very serious business and we nearly always find something in everyone that blocks certain prescription drugs they should not take.

Stu

44:26

Got you.

Jo

44:26

Whether they need higher dose or lower dose, whatever it is. And I think that is one of the most immediate, again, that’s more hardcore medical stuff, but it’s very important to know if your doctor says take that drug, and it does bad things to you. You should know that, and the doctor doesn’t know that.

Stu

44:45

Fascinating. And do you personally wear any other tech wearables or devices to monitor any other area of your health? And I’m thinking it might be sleep trackers, glucose monitors, whatever they might be, Fitbits, things like that.

Jo

45:05

[crosstalk 00:45:05]. The funny thing about me and my thing is that, I nearly never take any medications. I never see a doctor. I don’t do many variables. Sometimes when I go running, I do my heart beats and things like that. So I’m a little bit a nature boy. I just think just be healthy and I know when I’m stressed, I know when I don’t sleep, just really try to avoid that. So it’s kind of funny that I have a very critical mindset when it comes to all these things. I think it’s good to have them, they have a lot of potential. But I also see, this data’s pretty crude, it’s very low resolution compared to deep genomics. And I’m trying to go for data sets and data types that allow a very deep insight into your health at maximum digital resolution. And I think about it quantitatively, that’s why my company is called Quantgene.

The difference between a protein test, like a PSA test for prostate cancer, and what we do, say for DNA, you’re talking literally about deltas of like a million eggs in precision. Because in order to see a PSA elevation, this prostate specific antigen is a protein, in order to see any deltas, how many more protein molecules do you need to see that in a test? And the answer is millions. If you have like 2000 more molecules, no one will ever see any data, right? You need millions in order to see data.

We in genetics, we literally need one molecule of DNA and we see that. We can tell you it was two molecules and not one, that carried that mutation. That level of precision has an enormous impact on what you can actually do with it. I mean, I think about sleep data, for example, it’s just the level of crudeness compared to that level of precision it’s just huge.

And in addition, I’m the last person who doesn’t know if I didn’t sleep well, I’m very sleep addicted. And if I don’t sleep well, I feel horrible. And I don’t need anyone to tell me I’m horrible.

Stu

47:21

Yeah. I hear where you’re coming from as well. And a lot of these gadgets and gizmos as well are, as you said, quite crude. I mean, I’ve tested out the majority of them and have been told that I have been in deep sleep when I’m watching television. So I hate-

Jo

47:36

Like it has been a blurry movie.

Stu

47:37

… It was. So look, we’re just coming up on time, but I’m just keen to, just to dive into a couple more questions. First up is, what’s next for Quantgene. It sounds like you’re doing some radical stuff and no doubt you’ve got some medical stuff in the pipeline as well.

Jo

47:59

Yeah. For us, I mean, we are now at the precipice of launching this entire system, we are started to launch. We are also doing some complicated COVID testing things. But Serenity will be fully up and running before Christmas this year, after five years of a lot of R&D and the cloud and AI, and in the lab. And for me, it’s a very dramatic time. It’s very exciting, but we need to prove now to a lot of critical people, financial analysts, physicians, oncologists, and patients, we get a lot of support, but also a lot of skepticism on many things. The technology may be the least of it, but clinical utility, business model is probably the biggest [crosstalk 00:48:45] question, to go not with the insurance. That’s a huge deal and the question mark. In my opinion, is the only way to build the future of medicine, you need to get out of that trap.

And so the next year we’ll be very crucial. I think in the next year, Quantgene can show, we get this product out, we get patients and physicians to use it. They are happy with it and we show results and we can show, we can make this profitable cashflow positive. It will be an enormous deal, not just for us, but for all of medicine, because once we achieve cash flow positivity, we can’t be stopped. That’s the important thing. Because the potential is of course to fundamentally transform all of medicine. And the funny thing is that, I know many people who are veterans in the industry and have very large companies, biotech companies, who all agree with me on the fundamentals, on the technology, on genetic predictions, on liquid biopsy, on intelligence. The one thing they don’t agree with me is that, we can pull off cash flow positivity.

It’s dead absurd. They say there is just no path. You cannot pull it off. You have to go to the insurance companies. And once you go to the insurance companies, you can scrape your entire model. It’s not going to pay for universal cancer detection. You have to pivot into only colon cancer and drop the rest forever. They will not pay for whole exome sequencing, you have to drop it and carve it up into tiny little sub segments and try to reset people. They do not want us to test you for 799 bucks. They want us to test it for 200 bucks and then do this 200 times for 200 bucks [crosstalk 00:08:24].

Stu

50:27

Yes.

Jo

50:27

So you are just inheaded once you do that, you cannot build the future. So most very smart people who are deep industry insiders agree with us on the tech and clinical strategy long-term, but there’s a skeptical that we can pull off a business model that works. So in my opinion, if we pull this off next year, and show cash flow positivity, this is the biggest deal ever because we can then limitlessly scale this thing. Because, there’s, literally everyone needs it. It’s a huge per capital spent per year compared to other products. It’s literally like a multi-trillion dollar opportunity. And it all hinges on the question, do we find enough innovative consumers and physicians and employers who say, we are in? It’s like [inaudible 00:51:19], after this journey of the clinical studies and all the technology, it all boils down to a business model innovation and the question, can we put it off?

Stu

51:29

Oh boy. Interesting times ahead. Well, it’s fascinating stuff. So for everybody that has enjoyed what we’ve spoken about today, who is intrigued and interested in diving into the Quantgene journey themselves, where can we send them?

Jo

51:49

To quantgene.com and to choose serenity.com. And they can also write me directly at jb@quantgene.com. I’m always excited to hear from people what they think. Yeah. I mean, our customers tend to be very interesting people. So they tend to be executives at Google and the test lab people. So I had the best conversations with our customers. Where they literally, like one of them was like, “Oh yeah, I’m the head of hardware marketing of one of the top four tech company. And I’m able to help you with your website, or with marketing. Because I’m loving what you’re doing.” And so there are many smart people out there who understand this is important.

Stu

52:33

Yeah. Absolutely.

Jo

52:35

And I always love to talk to people.

Stu

52:36

Fantastic. Well, we will drive as many people to your website as we can. And certainly continue to keep our eye on this journey because it sounds like a radical journey. We don’t use that word lightly because it sounds like it will do amazing things. So Jo, thank you so much for your time today, really appreciative, and we’ll keep one eye on Quantgene and hope to speak to you at some time in the near future.

Jo

53:05

Yeah, it was a pleasure to do. I really enjoyed it.

Stu

53:08

Thank you so much. We’ll speak soon.

Jo

53:09

Thank you.

Stu

53:10

Bye-bye.

 

 

Jo Bhadki

This podcast features Jo Bhadki. He is founder and CEO of Quantgene. He leads a team of 22 that is growing quickly. Quantgene’s mission is to extend the healthy human lifespan by 10 years within the next 10 years, or more simply put: a decade within a decade.  To achieve... Read More
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