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Phenomix launches first-of-its-kind test to predict obesity phenotype

Phenomix Sciences (Phenomix) has launched its first therapy selection test, the My Phenome Hungry Gut test is a first-of-its-kind obesity test and will determine if a patient's phenotype is Hungry Gut (Satiety) or feeling hungry shortly after eating a meal. If a patient is Hungry Gut phenotyped, providers are able to more precisely and accurately make a treatment plan which would include a diet intervention specific to Hungry Gut, GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide) medications and intragastric balloons.

Phenomix wants to further the understanding of how genes combined with environmental and behavioural factors can inform obesity treatment plans. Through extensive research from Phenomix's physician founders, Drs Andres Acosta and Michael Camilleri of Mayo Clinic, they have found that obesity is not a single disease with a single treatment type, but a constellation of diseases requiring personalised treatments. The three types of obesity phenotypes in addition to Hungry Gut are hungry brain, emotional hunger and slow burn.

The company's first test is addressing the Hungry Gut phenotype, which is caused by the lack of satiety due to the stomach moving the food out of the stomach faster than other phenotypes. Since variability between patients can be drastic, the Hungry Gut test is developed to predict how a patient will respond and allows physicians to choose a precise treatment plan for patients.

According to the company, the outcomes from a recent study (Phenotype Tailored Lifestyle Intervention on Weight Loss and Cardiometabolic Risk Factors in Adults with Obesity: Preliminary Proof of Concept Study, published online by The Lancet) was the first to prove that when a diet is based on a patient’s individual physiology the patients lose twice as much weight with a phenotype tailored diet. The study compared the effect of a standard lifestyle intervention to a phenotype-tailored lifestyle intervention on weight loss, cardiometabolic risk factors and physiologic variables contributing to obesity pathophysiology.

The non-randomised 12-week clinical trial looked at two forms of lifestyle interventions in separate cohorts of adults with obesity. All participants completed in-person phenotype testing and were assigned to standard lifestyle intervention with a low-calorie diet, moderate physical activity, and weekly behavioral therapy sessions. In a second phase, other participants were assigned to phenotype-tailored intervention according to their phenotype: abnormal satiation (time-restricted volumetric low-calorie diet); abnormal postprandial satiety (low-calorie diet with pre-meal protein supplementation); emotional eating (low-calorie diet with intensive behavioural therapy); and abnormal resting energy expenditure (low-calorie diet with post-workout protein supplementation and high-intensity interval training).

Results of the study showed that of the 165 participants, 81 on a standard lifestyle intervention and 84 on a phenotype-tailored lifestyle intervention, 146 completed the 12-week treatment programme. The phenotype-tailored lifestyle compared to standard lifestyle intervention resulted in significant reductions in body weight of 6.9 kg vs 3.5 kg (15.2 lb vs 7.7 lb), respectively, which equates to nearly twice as much weight loss with a tailored lifestyle. Differences in waist circumference, lean mass and triglycerides also favoured a phenotype-tailored lifestyle intervention.

“Phenotyping is a personalised experience that allows the provider to get to the root of a patient’s obesity," said Dr Andres Acosta. “Neither one size fits all approaches nor medication will work if it is not the right solution for what is causing obesity in an individual's body. With a phenotype tailored lifestyle plan the patient is equipped with the tools that are specific to their type of obesity, and this study demonstrates that impact on effective weight loss.”

"This launch marks a turning point for the field of obesity. We have chosen to focus on bringing this test to market first because GLP-1 medications are costly to patients yet in such high demand. By prescribing medications to the right group of patients, we can significantly reduce negative responses," said Mark Bagnall, CEO of Phenomix Sciences. "Our initial launch of the test is to a small group of obesity medicine physicians who understand the different phenotypes described by Drs Acosta and Camilleri and appropriately counsel patients on their treatment options."

Phenomix Sciences is backed by Health2047, an innovation firm powered by the American Medical Association (AMA) with the goal to make a meaningful and measurable impact on healthcare by the AMA's 200th anniversary in 2047.

"The ability to make an impact on significant healthcare problems like obesity is exactly why the AMA launched Health 2047," said Dr Jim Madara, CEO of the AMA. "It is encouraging to see another one of the companies we founded achieve an important milestone and contribute to such a prevalent disease affecting nearly half of all Americans."

The Hungry Gut Test will initially be rolled out to a select group of providers before a full roll-out later 2023.


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