Location, location, longevity

Taking control of the environmental side of the equation can increase healthspan, says longevity competition winner Epix AI.

On the 29th February, Epix AI won the startup pitch competition at the Unlock Healthy Longevity: Supplements scientific conference, hosted at the National University of Singapore Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine. 

The conference featured some of the leading luminaries of the longevity research field, including Brian Kennedy, Andrea Maier, David Sinclair, Laura Niedernhofer, Hans Meij, Nir Barzilai and Alexey Moskalev, among others.

Epix AI is a Bulgarian startup combining epigenetics and AI in a platform that measures people’s biological age and their risk of age-related diseases. Registered in July of 2022, the company has since completed over a year of algorithm development to discover the epigenetic biomarkers that are most predictive for biological aging and is now leveraging that knowledge in an attempt to prevent age-related diseases. It’s an approach that has Epix AI win inclusion in Intel‘s start-up program, Intel Liftoff.

Longevity.Technology: Epix AI’s hybrid algorithms stand on two pillars – a statistical and machine learning approach on the one hand, and rigorous scientific evidence on the other; the company feels this approach measures biological aging in a way that is more robust and meaningful than existing research in epigenetics. 

Epix AI’s platform – Dynamic Health Score – collects input from wearable devices and geolocation. Based on these, it generates a daily estimate of users’ rates of biological aging, allowing them to track trends and providing personalized lifestyle recommendations to help them slow aging and increase healthspan. Epix AI also offers epigenetic tests based on saliva samples that will allow clients to go a step further and measure the specific interplay between their genetics and their way of life.

Still in pre-seed, Epix AI is still in the pre-seed stage and is raising funds to complete its mobile application and launch on the European market, with global presence following thereafter.

Location, location, longevity
Epix AI’s Chief Science Officer, Milena Georgieva PhD (L), and Chief Operating Officer, Nikolay Vasev PhD (R), celebrate winning the startup pitch competition

We sat down with Epix AI’s Chief Operating Officer, Nikolay Vasev PhD, to find out more about the platform and the next steps for the company, especially given its recent achievement.

While winning the pitch competition is a major accomplishment for Epix AI, Vasev explains it goes deeper.

“It was a validation of our idea from the highest levels of scientific research in the field of longevity,” he explains, adding that the conference coincided with the launch of the startup’s online form for measurement of rate of biological aging. “This is a tool we designed to gauge people’s interest in our platform and to collect traction. The results from it are already proving crucial in our talks with investors, because people want to know that our idea is validated by researchers, but also by prospective clients.”

Epix AI’s platform taps into the growing interest in aging and disease prevention, and the company’s scaling plans reflect this. Already in negotiations with a European prevention clinic, Epix is also preparing to launch a longevity package that includes genetic, epigenetic and biological age tests, as well as traditional biochemistry tests.

“We are moving towards a B2B2C model, which will catapult us in the European market, and it will also give us visibility beyond Europe,” Vasev explains. “Our services are endlessly scalable, so we will be looking for other partners with whom to expand our scope, including pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, elder care homes, original equipment manufacturers of wearables and others.”

Epix AI’s platform includes a Dynamic Health Score, and, obviously, ensuring data accuracy and reliability is paramount, particularly given the complexities of biological aging and the diverse lifestyles of its users. Vasev explains that the team uses a two-pronged approach that combines modern statistical methods with proven and well-known scientific discoveries.

“We filter biomarkers for their predictive power and cross-reference with the methylation loci (CpGs) whose relevance is proven by existing studies,” he explains. “We were excited to find that the overlap between the two approaches is significant (p<0.0001), meaning our biomarkers are both highly predictive and scientifically explainable.”

Various longevity platforms use wearable device data, but the Epix platform also crunches environmental data, adding geolocation into its estimates of users’ rates of biological aging. Vasev explains that this inclusion was a no-brainer.

“A person’s epigenetic profile is strongly determined by their environment. The air we breathe, how much we exercise and how well we sleep, all leave their daily residual mark on our epigenetics,” he explains, adding that Epix’s models can use wearable and location data to predict this effect and give the user an estimate – solely based on their lifestyle – of their daily bioaging rate. 

“This reflects our competitive advantage over pure wearables that measure your physical activity, but do not tell you its effect on your health,” says Vasev. “Naturally, our measurements get stronger the more data we get, and our epigenetic test is still our most accurate way to measure your bioage. Our app can then use the same method to give you personalized lifestyle recommendations to affect your specific epigenetic profile and slow down the effects of aging.”

The balance between innovation and scientific rigor in the development process can sometimes be hard to find, and companies need to ensure the scientific validity of their platforms’ approach, particularly in identifying epigenetic biomarkers for biological aging.

This was an important consideration for Epix AI, and Vasev explains that the company’s research and development is strongly filtered before it goes into its products.

“We encourage open experimentation especially in our data science team; then our results are validated rigorously and checked against known scientific evidence. We err on the side of caution when it comes to customer-facing results and all our recommendations are validated by health experts.”

Photographs courtesy of Epix AI