‘I want a translation time of zero’

Alden Scientific CEO on creating a GPS for longevity and healthspan.

Alden Scientific, a pioneering digital biology company, has emerged at the forefront of personalized healthcare by developing advanced individual predictions to manage health, disease and aging. Using sophisticated plasma proteomics, this innovative US startup has created AI models that can discern intricate connections necessary for an accurate assessment of an individual’s health and disease risk; these models evaluate over 200 different conditions, including major causes of morbidity and mortality such as Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, diabetes and stroke. It is innovative technology that can empower individuals to comprehend the impact of various interventions on these health risks, offering a nuanced understanding of their overall well-being.

Longevity.Technology: The quest to unravel the complexities of aging and age-related diseases demands an exhaustive analysis of numerous factors – ranging from genetics and the immune system to epigenetics and environmental influences. While AI has long been heralded for its potential to decode these intricate biological interrelations and catalyze a new era of healthcare, the industry has yet to witness the advent of tools that genuinely fulfill this promise. Alden Scientific‘s recent advancements, however, signify a substantial stride towards realizing this vision, potentially transforming how we approach and manage the multifaceted process of aging.

We sat down with Alden’s CEO Jamie Heywood to discuss his motivations behind founding Alden Scientific, the company’s groundbreaking approach to personalized health insights, and the innovative applications of their technology in both clinical and research settings.

Jamie Heywood on…

A powerful platform

Alden was founded because I believe that we have reached a time in biology where we had the technology in machine learning and biological measurement to truly understand human complex disease at a new level, and we can leverage that to build biomarkers for the things that we want: fluid intelligence, vitality, strength. Considering how we become our most vital, intentional, powerful selves, I realized that none of the data that I was dealing with from clinical labs, or the data from the papers or the information that’s coming out that’s exploding about understanding aging and health, really could be brought back to me in context to give me a tool as an individual to measure things in myself. Alden Scientific was designed to provide those markers for the first time in a rich way in an individual.

The Alden platform is a biomarker clinical decision support tool; a blood draw is evaluated using state-of-the-art research-grade assays, and the differences in those assays are then evaluated, just like we evaluate distance using GPS, to the things that you want and the things that you don’t want. The platform uses those distance metrics in certain ways to provide a position of where you are in the journey of life and to give you guidance and advice vis-a-vis the biology you might want to change or ultimately, though not quite yet, the interventions you would want to take to move you to that place and to do so using all the known information, not just prior opinions from others.

Our platform measures everything that can be measured – epigenetics, RNA, DNA, the whole genome. We also leverage one or two of the highest dimension proteomic acids in the world that are not for sale anywhere. Plus advanced glycomics that includes every measurement and we culture the microbiome – we are looking at CyTOF and different cell counts in ways that are just never done in general. Our platform is the difference between GPS and a sextant and compass – it’s that different.

Leveraging the longevity community

One of the beautiful things about the longevity movement is a lot of people are self experimenting – and these are resourced and thoughtful people that are trying ideas from high evidence-low risk like supplementation, dietary changes and behavioral changes like fasting through to more aggressive ones like rapamycin all the way to truly off label things like gene therapies or doing broad stem cell transplants. People believe they can change their health outcomes, and my belief is that we should leverage that. 

Having gone through a cycle of this with my brother’s ALS where I watched people try things and then the information was lost to the world – both the failures and the potential things that worked. If our platform was fully deployed at scale for people trying new things (a fast, starting rapamycin, stem cell transplant, supplementation, whatever), because of the way we do our mathematics, with the right time dimensionality of biological features, we will be able to report on the effects and predicted effects in the short term, the medium term and the long term. 

And that’s the same information that we want from a drug development program, the same information we want for discovery. What’s amazing is that with machine learning and the right biological feature measurement at scale, we can converge discovery, development and the best of care – and that’s what I think we’re doing.

Embracing extension

We need to move to proximity to causality, to an understanding of human variation. The more we can account for that and vary then the better data we will have. Already, the data we have now, with this sort of machine learned biology, it is so precise and so capable of managing nuance, that if we get the question right, we can really get down to the place where in an individual or a very small number of people,we can begin to see whether something actually works. This is so important to me because I don’t see any reason why we can’t functionally extend human life by 20 or 30 years – the genetics says we can, the environmental variation says we can, but what we don’t have is any decent measures of whether we’re succeeding at doing that right now. And so, if we get those measures, it will happen. 

I want that out in the world with as many people as possible, because I don’t want to have to try everything myself – I want to learn from everyone else. You could compare our platform to a confidential social network for people that are committed to understanding and advancing their own health. At the moment, there’s a high cost because these assets are very expensive, but we have a very clear path to lowering this price point over time to a place where it can be broadly accessible. But right now, this is like private jets for personal discovery to understand how to not die.

This decade is going to be so unbelievably exciting in what we can do to understand and change our lives. It’s amazing to be in the center of understanding it – I’ve never had a more enjoyable experience in my life!

READ MORE: Alden Scientific – combining proteomics and AI to enable ‘a new era in healthcare’

Photograph courtesy of Alden Scientific

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