Tally Health wants to move the needle on your longevity

Tally Health CEO talks biological aging clocks, longevity supplements and turning Dr David Sinclair’s vision into a reality.

Yesterday’s launch of Dr David Sinclair’s consumer longevity company Tally Health is big news for the sector. While the world awaits exciting breakthroughs in drugs and therapeutics that will one day extend human health and lifespan, Tally (and other companies) are focused on interventions that have already been shown to slow aging in humans. Yes, it’s still mostly about diet, exercise, sleep and so on, but what’s important for one person may be less impactful for another. The key is knowing what each of us needs to focus on to help move the needle on our aging. And for that, we need better data on what’s working, and what isn’t.

Longevity.Technology: Rather than looking at a person’s chronological age, the consumer longevity sector is largely focused on the idea of “biological age” – dictated by the rate at which your body is deemed to be aging. Tally’s approach uses a “next-generation test that estimates biological age from human cheek swabs. The company says its test was built “using an in-house dataset that includes over 8,000 people, spans a wide chronological age range of 18-100 years, and represents diverse demographic groups.” To learn more about Tally’s approach, we spoke to CEO Melanie Goldey.

Tally Health unveiled: Dr David Sinclair’s consumer longevity company launches

Goldey says that one of the main drivers behind the formation of Tally was to bring “high quality biological age testing” to the market.  

“Our goal was to make biological age testing better, using machine learning and all the other tools that we have today, to create a very large data set that can be used to build a biological aging clock,” she says. “The vision was to create a super reliable, accurate test that is reflective of who we are, and can be personalized to different people.”

What’s different about Tally’s clock?

The primary method that the TallyAge clock uses to calculate your biological age is by measuring DNA methylation, a tool our cells use to control which parts of our DNA are accessible or restricted. DNA methylation patterns change over time and can be analyzed to measure biological age.

While several other biological clocks also adopt the DNA methylation approach, there are some key differences in Tally’s clock – starting with its cheek swab collection method, which Goldey says is more appealing to consumers than a blood test, for example.

Tally Health unveiled: Dr David Sinclair’s consumer longevity company launches

“But the more scientific reason to choose the cheek swab is that we have seen that buccal tissue can serve as a great proxy for what’s going on within the body,” she adds. “So down the line we can start to hone in on certain areas of health and create additional clocks – a menopause clock, or a fertility clock, for example – without having to disrupt the user experience.”

Another differentiator of Tally’s clock, says Goldey, is the large sample size it was trained on, but also on other factors used to develop the algorithm, including holistic lifestyle factors.

“While our test is largely based on DNA methylation data, we have validated our findings based on those 8,000 people telling us about their lifestyle,” she says. “Through that we were able to optimize the clock even further, cut out more noise and really bring down that error rate. We have tried very hard to cut out as much bias as possible, and incorporate those holistic lifestyle factors, which are so important to getting it right.”

Measuring intervention impact

Goldey acknowledges that comparing different biological age test results is difficult, and the main reason for Tally having a clock in the first place is to establish a baseline on which to determine the impact of interventions.

“We want people to have the ability to continue to retest on the Tally test, because then you have a relative measure of how your score has changed,” she says. “As you retest, your recommendations should change, and we will be able to look at that longitudinal data set across thousands of consumers and continue to optimize our platform.”

Tally Health unveiled: Dr David Sinclair’s consumer longevity company launches

But having an epigenetic aging clock based on good data was only part of Tally’s vision. Another challenge was addressing the scalability and cost of DNA sequencing.

“David and his team at Harvard have developed a proprietary technology that allows the DNA sequencing process to be done much more effectively, and cost-efficiently,” says Goldey. “The way that DNA samples are processed right now is quite cost prohibitive, but David’s Harvard lab created this technology where you could essentially put a unique identification tag onto each of the samples, pool them together and run hundreds simultaneously. So, not only are we bringing longevity science to the masses and creating a reliable age test, but we also have a way that the business can scale up through this technology.”

Actionable insights

Of course, what happens after you do a biological age test is even more important than the validity of the test itself, and Goldey is keen to stress that Tally is about much more than just age testing.

Most people, she says, understand the lifestyle changes that will probably benefit their health: eating better, sleeping more, reducing stress, stopping smoking, cutting down on alcohol and so on. But this knowledge is not particularly actionable because it’s so general.

“Tally is taking personalized information, really looking at your DNA, and providing an action plan that is tailored to you. We’re giving you the power of information about what really matters and what doesn’t, so you can choose which of these things you want to incorporate into your life.”

Tally offers a range of different membership tiers. Members also receive the company’s daily Vitality supplement, containing a unique formulation of calcium alpha-ketoglutarate, fisetin, quercetin, resveratrol and spermidine. Goldey says there are three “very strict” criteria for any supplement that Tally would ever create.

“First, there needs to be peer-reviewed published data in vertebrate animal models that each molecule extends lifespan or enhances the period of healthy disease-free life,” she says. “Number two is that there needs to be mechanistic evidence indicating that each molecule can mitigate established hallmarks of aging. And the final criteria is that we look for multiple double blind randomized and placebo-controlled human clinical trials, indicating that a specific dose is safe and well tolerated.”

“With Vitality, we wanted to include the ingredients that hit these three criteria, that would be expected to be broadly beneficial and that we know can address aging hallmarks.  And we wanted to create one supplement that is comprehensive and easy to take, so we put them together in a single, convenient formulation. We’ve also worked with David to create other supplement formulations, which will be launched over the course of the year.”

Continual feedback is key

The memberships are essentially subscription models for three months, six months or a 12-month annual plan. Prices range from $199 to $129 per month, but Goldey points out that members are getting more than just biological age testing in their package.

“If you sign up for an annual plan, for example, you will get four age tests, the Vitality supplement every month, and ongoing access to all of the content and all of the personalization, the plans and so on,” says Goldey. “Fundamentally, I believe that because we’re looking at epigenetics, how your body evolves over time, the accessibility of your DNA over time, it’s important to at least have six months to see if those lifestyle adjustments are having an effect.”

That feedback loop is the core value proposition of Tally: take the test, make some adjustments, and then see how your score has changed.

“This is a way to put more information, more motivation, more empowerment into the hands of the individual,” says Goldey. “Something that is much more focused on them and their bodies. And ultimately, that’s what we really want – to be able to help people just live healthier for a longer period. And hopefully that translates to living longer as well. “

“Down the road, we can use this information to create a better holistic wellness experience for people. We’re building an amazing data set that can be incredibly valuable because it’s longitudinal. And because of the scale, we hope to work with other healthcare entities, and potentially payers, insurance companies, who are currently basing risk profiles on people’s chronological age, which doesn’t really make a lot of sense.”