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HomeHealthHello Alpha, Phenomix Sciences Launch Partnership for Genetic Obesity Test - MedCity...

Hello Alpha, Phenomix Sciences Launch Partnership for Genetic Obesity Test – MedCity News

Marissa Plescia

Virtual primary care platform Hello Alpha has teamed up with Phenomix Sciences, a precision medicine biotechnology company, the companies announced Tuesday. The partnership will give Hello Alpha’s patients access to Phenomix Sciences’ genetic obesity test.

Palo Alto, California-based Hello Alpha primarily serves women and treats more than 100 medical conditions, including mental health, diabetes, weight loss, asthma and urinary tract infections. The company works with employers, or consumers can access its services directly. St. Paul, Minnesota-based Phenomix Sciences is focused on combating obesity through its MyPhenome test, a saliva test that identifies an individual’s phenotype, or an observable trait, of the disease.

Through the partnership, the MyPhenome test will be integrated into Hello Alpha’s weight loss program, which offers medication management, nutrition counseling and progress tracking. The test identifies three different phenotypes: 

  • Hungry Gut (accelerated gastric emptying)
  • Hungry Brain (eating too many calories without feeling full)
  • Emotional Hunger (eating in response to emotional triggers)

The test kits will be shipped to patients’ homes and the patients will take a saliva swab of the inside of their cheeks. They then put the swab in the testing tube and send it to a lab for processing. Patients usually receive their results within two to three weeks. The results will assist Hello Alpha providers in determining the most effective treatment plan for patients, such as lifestyle changes, dieting and medication.

“[The MyPhenome test] helps Alpha providers deliver effective, personalized weight loss plans for women, potentially saving time, money, and frustration for both patients and insurers,” said Dr. Mary T. Jacobson, MD, CMO at Hello Alpha, in an email.

All Hello Alpha patients will have access to the test starting on September 2, according to the announcement.

The partnership comes at a time when more than a quarter of women in the U.S. are overweight or battling obesity. Obesity medicines like GLP-1s have been a hot topic in healthcare for their potential to support weight loss, but they’re expensive and come with a lot of uncertainty.

“Obesity is a widespread problem, and with the rise of obesity medications, patients are overwhelmed with what treatment plans are right for them,” said Mark Bagnall, CEO of Phenomix Sciences, in an email. “This partnership allows more patients to have access to a test and ultimately helps their providers guide them in the right direction for weight loss treatment. We are also mindful of the current supply issues surrounding GLP-1s. Our approach prioritizes appropriate patient selection based on genetic insights to ensure that those who truly need these medications receive them and support those who are better suited for other treatments beyond GLP-1s.”

Jacobson noted that women are more likely to seek weight loss solutions and often battle weight loss issues in addition to other conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome.

“By understanding a woman’s unique phenotype, we can address both weight loss and underlying health concerns simultaneously,” she said. “This aligns with the growing emphasis on comprehensive women’s healthcare. … We want to contribute to the understanding of the relationship between excess weight, obesity phenotype, and reproductive stages of life.”

Photo: mikdam, Getty Images

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