#1 - Pharmacogenetics, gastroenterology, and other thoughts.

An experiment in sharing what's been on my mind: tweethoughts

Pharmacogenetics is the study of how a person's unique genetic makeup (genome) influences his or her response to medications. More and more companies have emerged in the last few years that offer genetic testing integrated into a broader healthcare experience. These companies typically aim to:

  • Understand how genetic data can more quickly identify risk factors for a specific patient with a given class of prescriptions (SSRIs, for example)

  • Give healthcare providers better data to inform their decisions and patterns among patients responses (and eventually move towards prescriptions that take genetics into account from the beginning)

  • Close the loop on reforming diagnostic criteria based off of root causes.

I've been interested for a while in how the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) specially called for the development of diagnostic criteria for the DSM called the Research Domain Criteria. These criteria would supplement experiential diagnostic questions with research on biomarkers with the long term ideal of reframing formal categories of mental disorder diagnostics from the ground up.

A few of the companies I’ve found most interesting in this space that have emerged in the past few years:

  • Prairie Health (genetic testing integrated into broader care to better understand people's responses to SSRIs based off of pharmacogenomics)

  • Adyn (aims to combine genetic testing with birth control prescription to better understand adverse reactions)

  • Luminate (skin patches that lift samples you send to their lab, where they identify genetic mutations caused by damage that inform your best treatment going foward)

(A quick aside on pharmacogenetics vs pharmacogenomics)

I'm curious what other areas of medicine are ripe for this type of model and what competitors might emerge.

Gastroenterology + the future of data informed care. It feels like there's such a complex set of disease like Crohns and IBS that are not well understood and solved mostly by continuous monitoring and testing across a wide variety of vectors. This feels like a more complex candidate for data informed care than the areas that are most popularly tackled thus far but one that is quite urgent - hoping to find some people working on novel treatments here.

What I've been reading:

  • Investors on the Increase of Direct-to-Consumer Health Businesses Interesting point "in cases where there’s a lot of stigma and patients are nervous to talk to their family doctor, a new player in the market could be very successful" → "In Ho’s view, newer social media companies like TikTok are going to become an increasingly important way to engage customers, particularly Gen Z and millennials. “There are so many communities there that are engaging people in conversations about medicine and their bodies,” said Ho. “I’ve fallen into so many medical education rabbit holes on TikTok and learned a lot from them. It could prove to be a very effective strategy in acquiring customers as you can gain a follow from both paid acquisition and free viral content.” I'll be curious to see how brands may use Tiktok to harness conversations around health challenges that already occur on the app.

  • Global supply chains in a post-pandemic world - on identifying vulnerabilities and diversifying your supply base with an eye towards increasing economic nationalism. We've definitely seen this shift with companies we chat with!

  • How credit cards work from the lovely Patio11’s new financial blog ~ “Competition for the business of business travelers caused one of the most important innovations in both consumer banking and the travel industries ever: cross-subsidization of credit card customer acquisition with travel company loyalty points. This economic engine became so massive that it is now worth strictly more than the airlines themselves,”

Other Links I Found Fascinating:

The making of the Covid-19 vaccine ~ Urbit has completed an internal prototype of its own twitter ~ Benchling ~ 50 years of biotech ~ Cryptocurrency boom & bust piece from 2018 ~ and lastly a wild Image-scaling attack on ML models:

Let me know what you think of this new format! As always, if you’re thinking about similar things or you disagree with me - I would love to chat! DM me on twitter or email me at nicolewilliams @ compound.vc. You can find more of my long-form writing here.