Ex-BGI CEO’s unicorn unveils health management platform, $400M investment in patient data, omics partners

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Ex-BGI CEO Jun Wang has disclosed more details about his ambitious startup

The AI-powered, $1 billion-valued startup founded by ex-BGI CEO Jun Wang has unveiled a health management platform. To access data and capabilities to make the ambitious project work, Wang’s iCarbonX has put together a network of seven partners including PatientsLikeMe—and invested $400 million in their operations.

ICarbonX’s AI and data analysis and mining capabilities sit at the center of the platform. By pairing the capabilities with SomaLogic and HealthTell’s omics chops, PatientsLikeMe’s data and resources from the other four partners iCarbonX thinks it can create a platform that allows users to better manage their health. ICarbonX will also make the platform and the data it houses available to researchers.

Exactly how this will work in practice and whether it can live up to expectations surrounding the company remain unanswered questions. But in unveiling the platform, dubbed Meum, Wang has started to add a few details to flesh out the characteristic display of techno-optimism.

“Today we know a great deal about how genes impact our health. But for that knowledge to be useful, we need to know how disease and aging manifest in the body over time, and how our everyday choices affect their progression,” Wang said in a statement.

“This ecosystem will be capable of connecting the biology and experience of individuals, and of creating useful, predictive algorithms to illuminate personal susceptibilities, differences in body functions and variations in treatment responses. We’ll be able to offer a ‘Digital Me,’ a personal guide for living well, and give the healthcare industry a more efficient, precise and cost-effective system to develop and deliver treatments and care.”

The seven partners cover different steps in this ambitious process. Proteomics player SomaLogic and immune system tester HealthTell will help iCarbonX expand the breadth of its data generating efforts. PatientsLikeMe will funnel its existing repository of patient-reported outcomes into the platform. ICarbonX-subsidiary Imagu Vision Technologies will handle image analysis. And AOBiome will offer personalized skincare products based on the data generated and analyzed upstream.

In enlisting the support of AOBiome, a company with one foot in the cosmetics sector, and talking up the role of the platform in “beauty and skincare, exercise and training, weight management and so on,” iCarbonX has suggested its early focus will be as much on lifestyle markets as traditional healthcare.

ICarbonX will encounter understandable scepticism about its ability to go from supporting the development of personalized skincare products to predicting disease development. But, in Wang, it has a founder with a track record of overcoming such doubts from his time at the helm of BGI.