Another go at consumer-level blood testing for chronic disease


Finland’s Nightingale Health opens a blood-draw center for consumers in Helsinki

There is a new effort at making advanced blood testing broadly available, both for clinical research and as a consumer health business. But Nightingale Health, unlike the infamous flameout of Theranos, is based on years of metabolic and genetic studies of population health, and is not based on a gimcrack machine to analyze everything from a pinprick sample. (However, like Theranos, there is substantial private equity behind it.)

Nightingale Health has been developing a multiphase blood analysis, based on nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), and has been involved in population health studies ranging from the Finnish THL Biobank to the UK Biobank—and has acted as a data source for over 200 scientific publications. Now it is offering My Nightingale blood test and app: for approximately $79, a consumer will do a blood draw at a Helsinki center, then receive results via a smartphone app (pictured). Consumers will be able to do multiple tests to see the results of lifestyle changes as shown in a variety of biomarkers Nightingale Health has identified. Diabetes and cardiovascular disease are two prominent targets, but the company has also done research on gut condition, urine tests, cerebrospinal fluid, and for predicting drug effects.

(Nightingale Health is not to be confused with the Nightingale project of Google, which involves analysis of health records. And, let it be noted, 2020 is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, which will be celebrated throughout healthcare.)

Nightingale Health has commercial agreements in 20 countries; in the US, it is collaborating with PerkinElmer Genomics, making use of the latter’s Pittsburgh, PA CLIA-approved laboratory.

The bigger picture

From a single blood sample, the My Nightingale app provides three-tier understanding of a person’s metabolic health. At the top level is the Nightingale Health Index––a metric that provides an overview of the person’s health by summarizing vital health indicator results into one score.

At the second level are different health indicators––heart age, diabetes resistance, blood sugar, inflammation, fatty acid balance and cholesterol balance. These connect a person’s health to their daily life. With follow-up tests, the company says, the indicators provide trend results that show how a person’s lifestyle choices (such as diet, physical activity, sleep, stress) affect their body. Lastly, the nearly 20 biomarker results are said to reflect even the smallest changes in one's health, and to provide a 10-year predictor of some health issues.

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