Making Illness optional with Naveen Jain and Momo Vuyisich from Viome
if someone told you today, hey, you can jump in your car today and drive 100 miles an hour on the freeway. Yeah. People would say, sure, I can write.
But what if I told you that in ten years you can jump in that car and drive 100 billion miles a year, which is faster than the speed of light. If you did a poll on the street of a thousand people, what do you think they would say? Impossible. Impossible to say that would happen. Like it's literally impossible. But that is exactly the scale of the technology improvement in ten years from 2004 to 2000, 14.
In other words, in ten years, we were able to obtain a billion times more data than we were in 2004. With the next generation sequencing. until 2004 or just a few years later, for the entire human history, we were always limited by the technology, meaning that bright people had bright ideas and bright, concepts about companies or projects, but they just couldn't execute on those. And today we are no longer limited by the technology. So, for example, I say to people, you know, we have 100%, 100% of all science, the technology needed today to understand the root cause of every single chronic disease, every single cancer and ageing. We just need to do it right.
We don't need to talk about it. We don't need to write papers about it. We just need to do it, Doctor's Kitchen Recipes. Health Lifestyle. So, moment of pleasure to chat to you.
We've tried before on one of your legendary walks. I've just found out that you do intervene regularly. A thousand miles last year. Brilliant. I would love to start off this part by.
By going into a bit about your back story. So moment, if you wouldn't mind, we'll start off with you and how you've come to the position where you are now. Yeah.
So really the where I am now was led by two different pieces. One was scientific, another was personal, two different stories that sort of melded together. The personal story was that I developed idiopathic arthritis at my at a young age in my twenties. And idiopathic just means that medicine doesn't know what causes it. And so they wanted to pour, you know, anti-inflammatories on my system. And I was a heavy, heavy user of NSAIDs for many years because I didn't want to take the biologics.
And so that was sort of a deteriorating over time, slow sort of low grade inflammation, joint pain, soft tissue pain, a whole bunch of other symptoms. And that was going on while I was in grad school and post-docs and being a scientist and so on. And the second part was that I, as a scientist with a PhD in chemistry, I think I understand the human body the way it's supposed to be understood, which is that we are basically a sack of chemicals in chemical reactions, and they're very, very well controlled and they're, they're being controlled and being in some kind of a nice balance, maintains our health. And if out of these thousands or tens of thousands of chemical reactions that are occurring in our body today, this moment, every moment, if some of those reactions go either too low or too high and they multiply, then that can lead to disease and then eventually that can lead to symptoms. And so as a scientist in a sort of a primary part of my science career was analytical biochemistry, being able to measure things. I wanted to digitise the human body, digitise it when it's healthy, digitise it when it starts to fall apart, and then and then understand how we can reverse that and prevent that. So
through my journey, my personal journey of this sort of weird rheumatoid arthritis slash ankylosing spondylitis, kind of a mystery disease, I rejected the idea that this is a bad luck or a mystery or someth some extraterrestrial force. I just was convinced that there was something that was irritating my immune system and that it was thinking that it was it was not self when it was in fact self. So that's why I was called autoimmune disease. That's what the doctor told me at least. So it turns out to make the long story short, that there is a specific kind of a molecule that all mammals produce.
So mammals are a group of animals that we belong to, and all mammals produce this molecule. It's called Nu five GC and EU five GC, except humans. Humans do not produce this molecule, but we have the ability to absorb it and we have the ability to transport it in our bodies and actually integrate it into our own cells. These are epithelial cells in the joints and in the arteries and veins and soft tissues and so on. And so once I found out about this molecule after reading the world's literature on low grade inflammation and anything that could trigger the immune system and autoimmune diseases and nutrition, and I tried every single diet on the planet and nothing worked.
Nothing absolutely worked. In fact, the ketogenic diet really messed me up badly. It was kind of a big hit at that time. And I tried it for three months and it was just a terrible, terrible thing.
Anyhow, so once I found out about this molecule and dug into the literature, I realised this could be it. And so I basically withdrew all mammalian products from my diet completely, 100%, no cheat meals, nothing. And I knew about the chemistry about this of this molecule, that it's a very stable molecule. It's integrate into our cells and it stays there for at least a month before it's recycled.
So I was extremely good at staying with my diet for two months. I had tried vegan diet before, but I had only tried it for two weeks and it didn't do anything. So I thought, okay, that's not for me. And so this time I completely removed mammalian products and my disease started to regress. And after two months, I kind of knew this was it.
And because I was in a pretty bad shape, it took over a year to heal. But my body actually healed. And so now, for many years since that diet switch, I have not had any symptoms. I have zero symptoms and I have completely cured myself.
You know, my right hip was starting to lock up at that time. It was simply not wanting to move. And now there's not even pain. There's nothing for many, many, many years. So this was a real powerful personal story that says, you know, what appears to be true is not actually true, that I had this, you know, variety of symptoms that were that could have been classified as multiple diseases, but it was just labelled as an autoimmune disease. And the modern medicine's response is let's just pour, you know, anti anti-inflammatory is onto you and that's the best we can do when in fact there was a root cause, I removed it and the disease completely went away.
And I haven't taken an ibuprofen in many, many, many years. Right. So that was really powerful and that made me completely switch my scientific career from everything else I was doing. I was involved in, you know, I was leading 50 projects in seven countries, really busy scientists. And it just dawned on me that, you know what? I went to a retirement party and this one person was retired, a retiree, retiring, and he had a very, very, you know, successful scientific career by all standards. And they announced how, you know, he went to this many conference, says he published this many papers, this many patents.
And my simple question was, has any of that work impacted a single human being on this planet? And the answer was no, It was those papers are sitting on a cloud server somewhere and someone who may or may not read them for the rest of the human history. And that's it. That was his scientific career, 40 years. And I thought, Oh my God, I am absolutely wasting my precious time on earth. And so that was just a jolt. It was like a heart attack.
It was like an amazing feeling, Hey, I can actually use my passion, my my energy and my knowledge to actually help humanity live better lives. Right? And that's basically when when this whole cascade of cascade of events happened that led to Naveen and I co-founding Biome and now spending many years with Naveen. And it's been just an incredible journey. I mean, and I hope I have time to write a book at some point in time about this because it's just been an incredible thing, matching my scientific background with Naveen, amazing business background and creating something that doesn't exist today. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, the power of a story like that, it's just so impactful.
I mean, my own personal story with overcoming illness, using a diet lifestyle approach is something that jolted my own career along as well, which is why I'm so passionate about nutrition and lifestyle and all the other clinical tools that we have at our disposal as medics that we unfortunately put to the sideline because we're not taught about it from medical school and I'd love to to bring you in here and talk a bit about your your journey and what led you down this path of health and wellness. Wellness, You know, in life, you really you know, you're born and see you're born to do this. And people always say, when you were young, did you really always want to It? You always want to go to the foods. And the answer is yes. Most of the time he rewrite the history and go back and see how all my life like that, what I think the truth really is. It just happens, you know, things happen and things build on each other.
So it's really never the last straw that breaks the camel's back. It is all the other struggles that accumulated. And then and last straw.
This happened to be applied to me. You know, I have never been, you know, say that I want to go disrupt health care. You know, to me, when I look at an industry, it's never about the industry. I focus from a very different perspective. As you know, my previous company, I was looking for space exploration and people said, what is what's common between this space exploration, the Internet work that you did and now you're doing health care. And the answer to that is one big common thing in all of them.
So when I was doing the Internet visa and they believed this was the medium that changed the trajectory of how humanity lives, you know, the fact today we talk about connecting people as a birthright. And I remember, you know, that, you know, 30 years ago, people say, like connection is why would you wonder, why would you want your phone to be with you? Why do you want people to be able to contact you all the time? At what point is the thing that just seemed so crazy and now we take them for granted? You know, going to space exploration is not about exploring space, even though we humans are explorers by nature, but it is about saving humanity from potential extinction. Right.
So imagine 7.4 billion every species we call human lives in a single lives on a single spacecraft. If our spacecraft gets damaged, be it's not at our planet won't survive. A planet will do just fine. The human species may not survive. And people have a very hard time grabbing.
And, you know, especially in Europe, I am really worried about the planet. Really, I that creates planet you don't need to worry about, worry about yourself. And the species that you belong to.
Like go back 65 million years ago when our spacecraft got hit by a large asteroid. In fact, all the dinosaur species, which were substantially larger in size than us, all disappeared. The planet, in fact, tried it, tried so much, it created the human species. Right. Now, imagine if human species get wiped out, it make it a super human species for all we know. But the fact that we love this species, wouldn't it be nice to actually back it up on multiple places? And I think, you know, whatever that means, we can say, why Moon, Why not Mars? And the answer is really simple Yes, you want to be actually on Mars.
In fact, you want to be beyond our solar system because, you know, Moon is still in that, you know, cislunar earth cycle and something happens to Earth is very likely. Who knows what will happen to that? You know, orbital cycles of the moon at that point. But what is agreed to learn to live outside the planet Earth and it still creates the way you don't want to be on March six months away. As I said, it's better to be a lunatic two days away than to be a martian in six months if you're not that, what happens. But having said that, ultimately you want to go beyond your solar system and our sun is going to blow up. Whether it is novel billion from small, the sun is going to implode.
It's just a cycle of universe. And when that happens, you want to be in a different solar system. In fact, you want to be beyond our galaxy into a different galaxy.
And if I were to really chill out, I would say you want to be beyond our universe into another multiverse. You may argue that many of us are already living in a multiverse with all the quantum, you know, quantum entanglement that is probably a version of me in some other universe that actually is probably living a past or present or future. For all I know, it's all part of the entanglement coming back to it, right? You know, you start to look at the stuff that I was doing that what do I do next? And I every time I start to venture, I actually ask myself three questions. And the reason I mention is everyone who is listening to it. If this is one take away from this podcast, this is not going to change actually entrepreneurship and how we move the society forward. So the three questions I ask myself, why this? Why not Why me and why? This is really simple.
God forbid I'm actually successful in solving the problem that I set out to do. Would it help a billion people live a better life? Right. And I'm going to apply this to our health care company.
Why on how we actually why, why? That's the second part of this. Why now? And why now is what has happened in the last couple of years. But more importantly, what do you expect to happen in the next 3 to 5 years that will allow you to solve this problem now than it was possible a decade ago or half a decade? And the reason is if you can take advantage of technologies of tomorrow that actually you can intercept when they are going to be really, then you are actually riding the wave of the exponential reality.
And I'm going to tell you why exponential concepts are so hard to understand. And the last part really is why me? Why me is what questions that you are asking, which are different from what everyone else in the industry is asking. And the questions you ask are the problems you can solve. And I think this is the key part of the message that most entrepreneurs either have the technology to figure out what problem to apply to, or worse yet, they are going out and actually doing what everyone else in the industry is doing because they are asking the same questions right now. Let me give you an example of how I applied that while and you know, to me, this is again goes back to like there's always the trigger and the trigger is just the trigger, but not the event. Right. And I started looking at and saying, you know, my dad had pancreatic cancer and of course I lost my dad, died of cancer.
And to me that when the trigger event like, why do people die from these diseases? Is this something that built into our human cells that once we get 40, we have to get a chronic disease, that we're going to get obese, we're going to have diabetes, we're going to have heart disease, we're going to have cancer, we're going to have dementia, we're going to have Alzheimer's, we're going to have depression. The answer was there's absolutely nothing in our DNA that you have to have. And these are the matter of choices we make, even though we as humans like to say, oh, it's the bad luck aerobics. Really?
I'm so sorry. It's the bad luck that you got this. The answer really is not a bad luck. It's a matter of bad choices we have made, sometimes knowingly, but more often unknowingly.
The choices we make are the things that happen now. So the first part was we said, What if we can prevent and reverse chronic disease? And that was a fundamental mission. So while imagine living in a world where illness is optional. I mean, that was literally a tagline. Imagine living in a world where illness is optional and we say, okay, number one question why this? If it be successful, would it help a billion people live a better life? Answer was 7.4 billion people checkmark? Why not? And as more mentioned, why now was simple to do to solve this problem, the three things needed to happen.
We have to be able to digitise the human body and the cost of sequencing had to come down significantly and when we started the company, the cost of sequencing was going to be about $2,000 plus, and we were absolutely convinced in the next couple of years the cost would come down to $100. Little that we know the costs actually came down to $10. So this is the beauty of exponential reality is when we were ten times optimist, it turned out we were ten times pessimistic of where things were. I think we said even if you were to digitise the human body, it's not going to solve the problem. You have to be able to process this massive amount of data and we realise we're not going to have access to supercomputers to be able to do that. And the cloud computing was actually started to come along the first time that we actually analysed the samples of people.
It cost us over $40 on Amazon Web services just to process one person's data. And we knew in the next couple of years that this would cost will come down to about ten months later that we knew that it came down to around 50, right? I mean, that's really that bar. One of the things that how fast things were moving. And last part was even if you could process the data, what would we do? This massive data, unless API is powerful enough and self-learning that we are able to in fact make a sense of this massive pool of data and we realise that it's going to be so powerful, self-learning we could get there.
And that was the reason we shut down is now the last part is we are how mobile came into the picture. My thinking was, you know, when it comes to chronic diseases, people were all asking the same questions. They were two questions being asked What is my DNA? Looks like? Because somehow DNA was magical.
If we could figure out that human DNA, we will know the software, the human body. And the second thing was people were starting to realise the microbiome is something important and they could, if they could just figure out which microbes are in my gut, I'm going to magically solve this problem. And now me having no background in science, no background in biology, to me it was very interesting how I looked at this problem. I said, Look, your genes don't change when you gain £200, so I can do a DNA test today and when you gain £200, your DNA will be the same. Now you become depressed.
Your DNA still hasn't changed. Now you get autoimmune DNA, Ed, and you get you get my point. Autoimmune disease, you can have every this is known to man. Your DNA doesn't change. And if DNA doesn't change, what does change? It turned out know if your genes are not changing the gene. Expressions are always changing.
And we say, oh, that is the key. We really, really need to understand the gene expression and little the right knew. I have no idea what gene expression is, but we knew that was the thing. Now interesting to us, something a microbe.
I don't know. Are these microbes are in my world. They are like little human beings.
That's how I honestly thought when I started the company. These microbes are like literally human beings. If what if they are like just human beings? The hundreds of different microbes can do exactly the same thing. So you take two people with diabetes, they can have completely different organism. You still be diabetic because they're producing the same chemical that makes you diabetic, right? Or the same organism could produce completely different things based on the environment, just like a human being.
A person can do a bad behaviour when they're in the bad environment and do a good thing. And then the person like one of them, these little organisms are doing the same thing and that was literally the key that we are going to focus, not trying to understand which microbes that they're we're going to focus on what they are actually doing. And that was the fundamental belief, and this is a question I'm asking, is what genes are being expressed, what microbes are doing, not which microbes are they or what is DNA. And that is really was the how I was born.
And any time, by the way, you ask this, these three set of questions, you can apply this to a company you start or the girl you meet or the boy you meet. You can ask, why have they? Why this? Why now? Why me? Yeah, and I just did everything right. And I mean, so my point to make is so y was born out of a simple belief that chronic disease can be prevented and reversed.
And in my journey was find this, you know, finding gene expression. I went to NASA's JPL. I would my understanding was if they can go to Mars and look for a light, they must have some technology. And it turns out they couldn't figure out how to do that inside. So I went there, talk to all the scientists, and they told me they have Delta doped.
You be sensor that can tell me what microbes are. There may be the microbiome of any organism living organism there, but they couldn't tell me what they are actually producing. So I went to NASA's Houston, then I went to NASA's Kennedy Space Centre. I went to Lawrence Berkeley, Lawrence Livermore, and I was now on my journey to Los Alamos National Lab. That's where I met Momo.
So Momo says, Well, not only I can tell you, for it is bacteria. Why it is fungi. I can even tell you exactly what they're doing. And he was working on a project and to date I have asked anybody in my private walk to MoMA, what were you working on that applied to this technology? And he tells me my security clearance is not high enough for me to learn that you have it. I have my security clearance, or just good enough for me to say, I will take this technology and get people to stay out here. Gotcha.
I love the entrepreneur aerial approach to this question and the question itself. I think that as medics and even perhaps in scientists, we don't dare ask, you know, making disease optional. It just sounds so completely leftfield. And I don't I want to bring my in here again because I want to be was just touching on. There was the different types of techniques that we had and what we were looking at, the diagnosis of, you know, what types of microbes there are, what language are they speaking, what populations they are. And the word omics gets used quite a lot.
And I think it's quite confusing for a lot of people. So maybe we could define exactly what those different methods are and the different types of omics. Yeah. So omics omics just means it's a it's a method, it's a laboratory method that measures many things at once.
And so when we talk about genomics, we're measuring or understanding many genes at once. There used to be a field called genetics that people used to spend their entire careers studying one gene, literally, but that was limited by the technology. It was not their fault. And so I want to I want to bring up these omics technologies because it's very important. You know, genomics is now a hot field. It's been for the last 15 years.
And I just want to bring up a metaphor that I like to to explain. So if if if someone told you today, hey, you can jump in your car today and drive 100 miles an hour on the freeway. Yeah. People would say, sure, I can write. But what if I told you that in ten years you can jump in that car in your car and drive 100 billion miles a year, which is faster than the speed of light. What do you think? If you did a poll on the street of a thousand people, what do you think they would say? Impossible.
Impossible to say that would happen. Like it's literally impossible. But that is exactly the scale of the technology improvement in ten years from 2004 to 2000, 14. In other words, in ten years, we were able to obtain a billion times more data than we than we were in 2004.
With the next generation sequencing. And so until 2004 or just a few years later, for the entire human history, we were always limited by the technology, meaning that bright people had bright ideas and bright, bright, you know, concepts about companies or projects, but they just couldn't couldn't execute on those. And today we are no longer limited by the technology. So, for example, I say to people, you know, we have 100%, 100% of all science, the technology needed today to understand the root cause of every single chronic disease, every single cancer and ageing. We just need to do it right. We don't need to talk about it.
We don't need to write papers about it. We just need to do it, you know? And I follow the principles of Elon Musk, which is on a Sunday. He doesn't sit around with his friends speculating, What's the world going to look like five years from now? He says, This is what the world is going to look like five years from now. And I know that because I'm going to build that world.
Right. And he strategise is how he's going to arrive at that world. And that's really the mindset that I would like all scientists and physicians to think about is that the future is determined by us. We can build it.
It's not a random chaos cascade that someone else imposes on us. So I would like to empower everyone who can help with this that let's build that better world where it's no longer a matter of bad luck that you get multiple sclerosis and you're in a wheelchair and you're suffering every single day. It's no longer a bad luck that you have an IBD flare and your life just turned to misery and you can't have a life professional or personal, right? It's not a matter of bad luck that you get pancreatic cancer and you're just told you're going to live for two years or else, or pick any disease you want, any cancer you want.
It's just we now have all the technology to solve these problems. And so what I would just on this topic, I would like really people to think of them as a technology platform. What people see on Viacom is one application of our technology, but we are now going to be rolling out many applications. I'd like to push for people to think about what we've created. Naveen and I, and obviously a huge team of brilliant scientists is we've created a world's leading systems biology platform that allows us to digitise the human body and then understand the root cause of chronic diseases, cancers and ageing. And we've opened this platform up to the whole world.
We in fact have a website called Devi Om Research Institute. People can go on there and find out what it is that we do, but all of this technology that we've developed is now available to anyone, any scientist, any physician in the whole world to access it fully and and build something, build an app. So think of it as the App store for health applications where, you know, one additional dramatic example that I would like to give is that before the smartphones, if there was some guy, some super smart guy with a PhD in computer science in a small town and let's say Ukraine, right, there was no possible way with any amount of work or any amount of skill for him to impact the humanity. Today, the smartphones and the App Store has enabled that one guy to write an app in just a few weeks and to automatically impact the entire humanity if that happens.
And that's exactly the way people should think of video. We have built a health app store where we are building apps on our own. We are building apps with our partners, but we welcome anyone else to come on it and to develop their own apps that we simply don't have the time or resources to devote to because the opportunity is massive. How many apps are there today on the App Store? Apple couldn't have possibly built them.
They they're just not that's not possible. So we're really democratising access to this absolutely cutting edge science and technology and making it available to everyone. Maybe we should we should talk about exactly what time does at the moment, as well as the applications of what Lime has in its research capacity that would enable scientists from around the world to to capitalise on the technology that we created. Yeah, perfect. So let's talk about this concept of, of, you know, omics, genomics testing, and I want to give a few really important examples that I think are going to be very dramatic for the audience.
So let's, let's, let's start from the beginning. If, if we were to sequence the DNA of your liver, brain and heart, the DNA in those tissues is identical. And the reason is because that DNA has the potential to be any one of those organs. Right. But it doesn't tell you which one it is and it doesn't tell you what it does.
But if you sequence the RNA, the expression of those genes, which genes are actually active in which tissue? Now you can distinguish kidneys from liver, from heart, from brain with absolute certainty, because those organs perform dramatically different functions based on the same, same DNA. Right. So that's one layer that's really important about RNA that we study. The second layer is if you have a kidney that is healthy and a kidney that's diseased or you have, let's say a visually, it's more dramatic. If you have an inflamed intestines of a person with Crohn's disease. Right.
Versus healthy intestine when they're in their remissions or remission versus relapse or flare. Right. If you sequence the DNA, you will get exactly the same answer. It hasn't changed. So a person can have a normal, healthy life with the same DNA as when they're sick as a dog in bed 24 hours a day. Right.
It's because of the DNA doesn't change. But the expression of genes is vastly different in those two health conditions. So not only can genes tell us what a tissue or what a microorganism is doing, but what is the difference between a healthy state and a sixth state.
So that's one core concept advice that we approach is we're looking at the functions, not the potential, and we apply that to human genes, antimicrobial genes and the gut microbiome and the oral microbiome, a vaginal microbiome, skin microbiome, any kind of a microbiome. And then the second concept that's extremely important is that while there are people who tell you, hey, look, when you're flaring in IBD, your gene expression profile looks very different. Your immune system has activated all these other genes versus healthy.
If a common person reads that, it's going to be complete gibberish to them. That doesn't make any difference. To look at the heat map of the of the differential gene expression analysis of the person in flare versus versus in remission. Right. What we need is a platform that can now say, aha, we know what caused that expression pattern to change. It's the combination of nutrition and the microbiome that stimulated that change in the human gene expression. And we now know how to change it and modulate it so that that person never experiences the flare.
Now we're talking about translating science into something that's not just a paper sitting on a cloud server, right? That's really important. And that's the concept of biome. Does that make sense? Repeat It does, yeah. The one thing I would say is how do you uniquely recognise this? The pattern that would allow you to intervene in various ways. And the two examples you used were were nutritional tools and lifestyle tools and, and some might argue that those are all limited in their capacity to, to, to make drastic changes regardless of how well defined they are in terms of the intervention.
Yeah. So, so that's a that's a I think probably the most important question of this of this podcast and what people want to know. So here's the concept, the concept this let's figure out, let's forget about the names of the microbes. The names don't matter, meaning rupee. Naveen and Momo doesn't mean anything.
If I need a dentist, if I have a bad tooth, right. I'm not looking for a Joe or a Naveen or a rupee. I'm looking for a dentist. I want to know what the function of that person is by meeting someone and saying, Hey, my name is Momo.
What's your name? Oh, it's Joe. That doesn't help me at all. That doesn't mean anything. I want to know what is that you can do for me and so that's the fundamental difference between all of our all of other microbiome tests and most and all of the genetic tests is that they only tell you the potential, right? They don't tell you what's actually happening. And so this is Joe.
He could be a dentist, he could be a medic, he could be an accountant. I have no idea, because the only thing I can measure is his name. That doesn't mean anything.
Right? Okay. So that's the fundamental difference. So I want everyone to think I want your audience to think about the gut microbiome, not as a collection of names, which is what everyone else is presenting it at, but is a collection of chemical reactions. So a microbe is literally a sack of enzymes and chemical reactions where the microbe says, Hey, there's glucose in my environment. If I take it in and I process it into some other molecules, I can actually make energy and I can multiply and my species will will maintain its integrity on planners.
That's evolution. That's evolution. I mean, that's basically life, right? And so so it's all about chemical messaging and sensing. And so it's chemicals and chemical reactions. I just mentioned the chemical, which is glucose, just a simple sugar and a chemical reaction that converts that sugar into water and carbon dioxide to extract energy. Energy.
So when we eat a meal and we're seeing we're eating meat, potatoes and broccoli to our brain, that means something. We can go to the grocery store and procure those things. But when those molecules, when those foods are chewed up and pushed into our intestines, those foods that all that entire concept that we think of as food goes away, the concept it now becomes is, oh, potatoes have starches, they have indigestible fibres, they have some other micronutrients. Broccoli has hundreds of different kinds of polysaccharides, fats and phyto science and all kinds of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and so on.
So you have basically a flood of molecules that's hitting our intestines. And there are two customers for these molecules. One is our own body starts to absorb things as quickly as it can.
Second, the remaining parts of that of that food go into our colon where the microbiome lives and we feed it basically. And why are we feeding this mass of one and a half kg of bugs? You know, people call microbes, bugs or germs in you and let's kill 99.9% of the germs, right? Yet we have evolved with one and a half kilograms or 40 trillion bacteria or another microorganisms in our gut in our colon.
Why is that? It's because they can actually process a lot of this food and convert it into something useful that we cannot convert it to. And that's because our genes are very limited. We only have 20 to 22000 genes, so we can only do so much processing of food.
Your microbiome at this moment in time has more than a million genes. In fact, an average human microbiome has codes for about 2 million genes in our in our data. And so the microbiome has the ability to digest food in a much more profound way than we do. And remember that yeast, when they make beer, right, we use yeast to make beer.
If you ate unfriended beer, meaning just barley, people would say, you, that's nasty and I can't do anything with it. Right. But you drink beer and you're like, Wow, this Guinness is amazing. And that's basically a by-product of the yeast consuming the ingredients that you gave it and produces something that you love. And that's basically the concept. The colon.
There are hundreds of different microbial species, species living in the colon. They're consuming the food you ingested and producing something that is useful for our health and our physiology. Yeah. So that's that. And so the concept that vision is not about listing the bacterial species because that doesn't help anyone, including us. Like, you know, people say I have an elevated room in a caucus, something how do I, how you know, that's not normal.
What do I do? Don't do anything. There's to worry about that. Your room in a caucus is out of range, right? It's a made up number. That doesn't make any sense, Right? What what we are doing at volume is we are converting nutrition into molecules. So we have a food ontology that says for anyone's diet there is 15,000, let's say, roughly molecules that that person ingest is ingesting into their body.
Then we measure the functions of their microbiome and we say, okay, how is your microbiome going to process these molecules and is it going to produce beneficial or harmful? By-Products Right. And that's really the key of what we are doing. And now if you if you do a lot of clinical research and we do an enormous amount of political research and understand what is a healthy microbiome function, what microbiome functions are associated with IBS, with depression, with anxiety, with type two diabetes, with sugar control, and you build these machine learning models because we use machine learning for everything. The amount of data is vast. If you build these machine learning models and now you understand what microbial functions are healthy and which ones are harmful. Now we can ask a very simple question Let's reduce it to literally two microbes.
So let's say we we do a microbiome test of someone's someone's stool and we find only two microbes. And instead of instead of like typical 400 microbes and let's say that those two microbes, instead of normally having 4000 genes, they only have one gene each. And so microbes a can process a polysaccharide from quinoa and make lipopolysaccharide and lipopolysaccharide tells my my immune system, well, you have some kind of infection. Mount an attack like all also soldiers like, you know, fire fire at will right at the whole body. Something's wrong here, Right? The other microorganism takes a polysaccharides from apples and makes butyrate. It ferments it just like you would make apple cider. Right?
Sorry, but this isn't a butyrate. It does not go all the way to alcohol, so it makes it into butyrate. The butyrate production in the colon feeds our intestine and makes it elastic and able to absorb food.
But it tells my immune system, Calm down, everything's cool, chill out, shut down all your inflammatory pathways. There's nothing here to see, right? So let's say we find such a person and we understand now there are two microbes. Which food do you think we're going to? Our computers are going to recommend? They're going to tell them, eat apple and avoid quinoa, because that's how we're going to rebalance your microbial functions. And those signals that are created by them, by your microbiome, will keep your immune system in a in a very nice, healthy state.
That's sort of a tiny, tiny, tiny example, because in reality we have about 10,000, let's say, to 15,000 molecules coming into a person's intestines. We have about 3000 different chemical reactions performed by a typical microbiome. And then we have a flood of several thousand different molecules that are produced by that microbiome. Right? And some of those are harmful, some some are not.
And so what our computers are doing with mathematics and machine learning is, okay, you have these particular microbes that are performing these functions. Some are good, some are bad. The good ones we want to stimulate.
So any food that contains substrates or molecular ingredients for those functions, we're going to tell you to consume. And these other functions of the microbes are bad for you. So any food that contains ingredients that can feed those functions, we're going to tell you to avoid them. And once you stop feeding a microbe, for example, if you have the yeast that produces beer and you don't give them barley, don't give it barley, can the yeast produce beer? It absolutely cannot. You deny it the substrate that is used to make ethanol and it absolutely cannot make beer, it can't make ethanol out of thin air.
It can't it has to have a specific substrate. And that's exactly the principle here, that we're modulating microbial functions to produce more of the beneficial molecules and to produce less of the harmful molecules. That's the concept. And so one takeaway from this podcast is that while traditional nutritional sciences have attempted to understand is coffee good for all humans or is it bad for all humans, Is dairy good for all humans or bad humans? Pick any food you want.
What We are asking is for any food. What are the ingredients? Well, your ingredients on that list, what are the functions of your gut microbiome and how are those ingredients going to affect the function of your gut microbiome, therefore affect your physiology? So we're looking we're using chemistry and mathematics to answer the question instead of, oh, broccoli is good for you, go ahead and eat more broccoli. So today, today, when a customer submits their blood and stool sample to our laboratories from that moment until that, from the moment the laboratory receives those samples, until the VM application shows which foods that person should consume or not consume and which supplements that person should take and what amounts. This is 100% objective process that includes measuring the chemistry and overlaying mathematical formulas.
On top of that, there's literally zero humans involved in any part of any of that process. The laboratory is automated, the bioinformatics is automated, and the results and recommendations are automated and algorithms that overlay on top of the chemistry are all developed from either domain knowledge, meaning published literature or from our own machine learning algorithms that we're starting to publish. Yeah, that's made it very clear for me in terms of the process and the thinking behind the testing and actually creating that dataset that can gives us the answers without human interface. And I also appreciate the fact that, you know, current nutritional science, as I'm doing my master's at the nutrition, aims to answer the uniform question, which is just not applicable in a in a data environment. Naveen, I want to bring you back here actually, because as someone coming at it from the entrepreneurial side and the business side as well as obviously the altruistic side as well, when when you get this data set, when you get sort of the answers as to what you should be eating, I guess one of the the issues is how do you enact that behaviour change? So you can tell me I should be eating this list of foods and stuff and that's my option to eat those foods.
But how do you make that the easiest thing to do given the constraints of our food environments? But it's a great question. So the first thing is, let me just summarise what there is no such thing as universal, healthy or universal healthy supplements and it goes back to thousands of years ago. We knew one man's food is another man's poison. So there's nothing here. There's no rocket science know.
For me, when I did the first test, it told me not to eat broccoli, not to eat cabbage or Brussels sprouts and here's the answer to your question. It doesn't say don't eat it and see, here is why. And that is what actually for me was the key.
It says your sap, your microbes are producing very high amounts of sulphide. Sulphide is causing inflammation in your gut. Broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts contain high amount of sulphur. Food is going to get converted into sulphide, including increasing your inflammation. Now, it told me exactly why I shouldn't do it and I have a choice. I'm going to still smoke.
No, you have a cancer, right? That's a choice you can make. But now it's very clear you can eat it knowing that it's going to cause inflammation. It's said don't eat spinach.
Now, to me, that was like, how can you possibly tell me that? When Popeye told me that spinach was good for everyone, you take a breath, you know, kind of a split. I said, you get healthy. So how can you tell me that spinach is not healthy for me? Well, it turns out Popeye was not designed scientist, so that's a good thing. And what we learned was the Popeye didn't know about the Oxalate in the spinach.
So if my gut microbes that are not able to digest oxalate or oxalic acid is going to end up in a kidney stone. And by the way, I did not follow and I end up with a kidney stone very good feedback loop you don't do that again. It's very painful. Very painful. Right. And I think I just said any man who has ever had a kidney stone will tell you that it's the same as a woman having a baby. Yeah. You know, I've heard that from many a patient.
Yeah, definitely. So I just want to make one by The same thing happens on supplements. You know, people take these nutritional supplements and it is based on food.
So I said, be are you taking supplements, you know, during these. Oh, yeah. Why are you doing that? I want to boost my immune immunity. Well, how well is it working for you? And now you look at me, like, present. I think it is working.
How do you know that? I hope it is working, but you have no idea, right? And that is really, really weird. Why on shines when you do that? We tell you, here is your immune health. Here is your cellular health, here, your biological age. It is your gut health.
And by the way, under immune health, this is your inflammatory activity. This is your gut. Microbial induces stress in your body. This is your histamine introduced inflammation. This is your vital information. This is your back to you.
And right now you have all the knowledge when we see go do this and when you do the retest, it closes the loop. It tells you, hey, look, this chink and let's assume some things don't get better. We don't get by it. Now we go and see. We learn that based on all the knowledge of 200,000 people, we saw this inflammation and we thought, we're going to give you curcumin. It did not work for you.
Maybe we're going to try elderberry now and we gave you Elderberry and it worked. Now we are looking for a background who are just like people who have where the curcumin doesn't work and the elderberry works. And that becomes part of what I see when we see this pattern. Don't ever take mentality and always expenses and that constant learning that flies. The fact that my 200,000 customers will always be better than someone else's first customer. Because all the learnings that we have had creating this fly with effect, right? So the key to me was and this is where most businesses fail, they don't understand the power of lightning.
If I am selling the water bottle, my first customer gets exactly the same product that my millionth customer. But when you are using the eye that is self-correcting and self learning, guess what? Emollient customer is substantially better off in our eco system than someone's first customer because all the things that have been happening. So our side from a business perspective was very simple. How can we continue to reduce the cost of getting people to be understanding the health insights? And by the way, we sell our services almost at cost. And the reason for that is so that we can get more and more people get the benefit of our service.
But it is also heuristic because we do want to help a billion people. And partly it is a good business, which is every customer who joins allows us to understand why people have chronic diseases. So I have 40,000 people who are depressed.
That allows me to see medicine. Everybody who has depression always seemed to have low butyrate production, very high LP production, very high sulphide production, ready. Interesting. Now we know how to modulated using the substrate that we're talking about. And if we could do that, could we actually reverse the symptoms of depression? And that's literally what we did. We took a time one and we saw here are the people who have IBS here are the people who have depression, here are the people who have diabetes.
Here are the people who have anxiety. And now we are going to give them these recommendations for months later, we measured the clinical scores at the beginning and at the end. And here was the most interesting point. Even though it was not a clinical drug, we could show that your clinical score of IBS SS s came down by 36%.
People who have high IBS severe depressive symptoms that we scored pq9 came down by 32%. They scored anxiety clinical score called 87 came down by 49%. And our risk for diabetes that we measure by measured and validated against HB When C came down by 30%. Now imagine that that is just one part of how people think of this who do think food and supplements. This is like non science. And now we are showing the clinical outcomes and we are going to be publishing the evidence, scientific evidence based people that is going to be actually submitted to the peer reviewed journal next week.
And that goes to the power of having the large stack of data. And then we realise from here will be that now we are able to understand the diseases. Can we build the predictive biomarkers? Remember item C diagnosis of the diseases even before you get the disease? Can I tell you, he wrote, We keep going down this path.
You're moving towards becoming a diabetic person. You don't have a diabetes yet or you're moving towards a person who normally would have depression or you're moving towards a person who is likely to start to towards autoimmune disease and or then you follow recommendation. You can see, oh my God, A moving away. You would have never seen that from DNA that are you progressing towards the disease? What were you moving away to? We saw the same thing in cancer that microbes are very tightly with our human tissues forming cancer. And there were three research papers that came out very recently that really, to me were complete breakthrough. And let me describe what these papers were.
To me, that was how I believe, why I believe that cancer could be eliminated in the next decade. So if I am a betting man, I would say humanity would have solved the problem of cancer within a decade of now be starting to understand that we were going about it the wrong way. So number one, research showed that they looked at 18 different types tumours and they saw the unique microbes inside the tumour. That was interesting.
The why would the microbes be sitting inside the second thing was the tumour was displaying the microbial peptide on the surface of the tumour. That really said why would a tumour being an organism, want to wipe the immune system to attack it by displaying the foreign substance? Unless microbes are somehow releasing the peptide that is declaring itself a self. So immune system says, Oh, this is just part of us believe it alone and immune and tumours taking advantage of the fact these microbes are commensal and they are going to tell the immune system to leave us alone. And they are feeding the microbes and protecting the tumour.
Now imagine that. And that's the third research was really interesting. They did the immunotherapy for melanoma patients and for many of these patients, the immunotherapy just did not work, simply changing their gut microbiome, not simply changing the gut microbiome. The therapy started working, the immunotherapy turn non that are changing the gut microbiome. So the non-responders into responders.
And that is the thing that most people understand. When we take a drug, then the effectiveness of drug or the toxicity of that drug could be changed by a gut microbiome. As Momo pointed out, if the chemical factory you pop in a lab at DuPont and if your gut microbes are taking the level dopa and they are producing tyrosine, the catalyst in metabolites that DuPont and the humans get nothing out of it. You die. Jackson and digest toxin is really interesting if you take digoxin and if you have the microbes that act in fact are deactivating the acid compound in digoxin, you not there's nothing is going to happen.
And I think one of the point that woman made that I think want to just reiterate that many of the diseases it seems like are somehow related to the human host. And of course, we the host of We Are the Human, the disease do appear in the human host. But what is the trigger? The trigger may actually be something microbial. And this is the one example I can give you. There is an organism.
Certain people have these organism as a talent. In some people it does nothing and it's totally commensal. In other people it releases a protease and the protease is called jelly and the jelly tightly binds to the human peptide name JLP. One and only reason I'm mentioning it, everyone know the JLP one maintains your glucose homeostasis and it maintains the appetite. Not if this peptide, this protease binds to this peptide. Guess what's happening now? You have in fact got rid of your appetite regulation and your glucose regulation.
Guess what's going to happen? You're going to get diabetes, you're going to get obesity now. Now you can sit while GLP one is not working, what Giuseppe would would have been working just fine if you didn't add this micro binding to it, right? Yeah. Point is then we start developing drugs. Yeah.
Yeah, I totally get that. And you know, we've just dropped from, from different subject matters there. But what you're, what you've eloquently described there is the typical pattern of reactive health care rather than preventative. And this does two things I want to pick out. One, we talked about immunotherapy.
We cancer and I know the paper you were talking about where they improved the host microbial system in response to immunotherapy. L-dopa is something that we give to Parkinson's patients and it can be changed by, again, populations. And digoxin is a medication we use for cardiac patients.
So we've just tried it over there. But one of the things that I think is really, really exciting and you mentioned right at the start, is predictive medicine. So predictive methods of trying to anticipate ill health before it happens. That for me, as someone who works in an anti and in general practice, that is the most exciting area because if I can give a test or some suite of investigations to every patient at cost at a very, very low cost every single year and we can say, look, if you continue down this route, whether it be smoking, whether it be this, we can accurately predict to that month, maybe even the day that you are finally diagnosed with the disease, that would be completely game changing, completely game changing.
Moment where you. Yeah, that's exactly what we want to build. Remember going back to the human body is a is a container with tens of thousands of chemicals and chemical reactions that all need to work in synchrony in order to to maintain health.
And so if you look at any disease, let's say someone has a heart attack, that heart attack didn't start last night because someone ate a steak. That heart attack started 30 years ago with chronic inflammation. Right. Same with diabetes, same with every chronic disease.
None of the chronic diseases come about by doing one bad thing. And there were molecular symptoms of that disease years or decades ago. Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, any any disease. And we have now the science, the technology tools to actually identify those molecular symptoms that are completely invisible to us.
No one can no one can measure those using traditional clinical tests or walking into an office and saying, hey, something's wrong with me, right? They're just absolutely My new gene expression level changes basically in someone's gut microbiome or someone's human genome. And so let's use that science of technology to actually understand that molecular disease, I call it the molecular disease because it's a it's an it's asymptomatic and let's use it to reverted back to healthy so that no one will be diagnosed with that disease. You don't need to tell someone, hey, you're going to get a heart attack in three years, five months. We can tell them, if you follow this, these recommendations, you're never going to have a heart attack. Mm hmm. Yeah, exactly.
And one of the things I want to ask you about my movies and in terms of the research institute that you mentioned, the Volume Research Institute, I mean, that sounds phenomenal. Is it is it sort of like providing your technology in an open source such that other scientists around the world can, can can use the datasets that you collected? Yeah. No, we don't do that.
So so yeah, so there's an asterisk with, you know, when I said that that the technology's open for free, unlimited use to the whole world there is an asterisk and that is that if someone applies for a grant and this has happened already, we go into a contractual agreement with them where we say, Hey, we're going to work together, we're going to generate some kind of IP, we want to exclusively license that IP if it comes out of our technology and we want you to license to to commercialise that IP if it comes out of your technology. So in other words, the absolute number one primary purpose of that grants program and giving people the whole world access to our technology is to convert their science and our technology or their clinical expertise and our science of technology into a clinically useful product that's going to impact human health. If that's not the purpose, then we're not interested, right? So that has to be the guiding principle for every discussion.
It can't be, Oh, I need papers for my tenure. It can't be. I'm curious about