IBM, Pathway Genomics Launch Watson-Based Wellness App

The alpha release of Pathway Genomics OME app analyzes genetics and other data for personalized wellness recommendations.

Watson-Based Wellness App

IBM and Pathway Genomics teamed up to create the Pathway Genomics OME app, a new personalized wellness application powered by IBM's Watson cognitive computing system.

The companies unveiled the new app at the Digital Health Summit at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2016 and launched a closed-alpha release of the solution. The Pathway Genomics OME app merges cognitive computing and deep learning with precision medicine and genetics to enable Pathway Genomics to provide consumers with personalized wellness information.

This alpha version of the app incorporates information from Pathway’s "FIT" Test—a wellness-based diet, exercise, and metabolism report compiled with information from the users unique genetic traits, as well as their health habits, data from GPS and wearable health monitors in addition to information from the users Apple HealthKit. Future versions of Pathway's OME will enable users to opt-in to include electronic health records, insurance information, and additional datasets that will enable OME to provide wellness recommendations.

For example, a user might have genetic variants responsible for metabolizing fats or for feeling full after eating. OME would then consider this information when providing genetically optimal diet plans or even restaurant and menu recommendations. Studies show that users who follow a genetically informed diet can lose significantly more weight that those who follow a "one size fits all" type of plan.

"With access to health information via mobile internet, today's consumers are taking charge of their health and well being more than ever before," said Michael Nova, M.D., chief innovation officer at Pathway Genomics, in a statement. "But at the same time they are overwhelmed with understanding and interpreting the massive amounts of information that specifically impacts their health and well-being. With Watson cognitive computing leveraged by our technology, we are able to deliver real-time, highly personalized insights to empower people to change unhealthy behaviors, allowing them to live healthier lives in ways we never thought possible. Users will have an easy to use side-kick that can do the work of sorting through, and make sense of the data that will help them to lead healthier lives."

According to Allied Market Research, the bioinformatics market, which includes genetics, is expected to grow to $12.86 billion by 2020; and the even larger mobile health market will grow to $59.1 billion.

To collect relevant genetic data, after approval by a licensed physician, Pathway Genomics will mail the user a saliva DNA collection kit. Then, Pathway will work with additional clinicians and scientists to conduct the Pathway Fit genetic test. The Pathway Fit test specifically looks at 75 genes that focus on phenotypes like diet, exercise, lipids, and sugar metabolism.

Pathway's OME app then delivers personalized wellness insights to the user based on Pathway Genomics' analytics of the findings from the genetic test and other user data combined with Watson cognitive computing technology, intelligent machine learning, and a corpus of health and wellness information. Through Watson APIs, the Pathway app leverages Watson's natural language processing technology and content in the form of health and wellness information.

"We know that genetics play an important role in each person's individual health, yet there has been limited access to services and solutions that apply genetics to behaviors that enable day-to-day wellness," said Kyu Rhee, M.D., chief health officer of IBM Watson Health, in a statement. "Pathway Genomics is the first to innovate both the specific genetic test and a Watson-powered mobile app to help individuals get insights from the data."