Startups

Will health nuts go crazy for their telomeres (or even know what they are)?

Move over 23andme. It’s time for… telomeres? New York-based Titanovo is running an Indiegogo campaign that – more important than the $20,000 – is gathering donors to beta-test its product: a saliva test that measures your telomere length. After the crowdfunders give their feedback, Titanovo will fine-tune the $89 test and later this year provide […]

Move over 23andme. It’s time for… telomeres?

New York-based Titanovo is running an Indiegogo campaign that – more important than the $20,000 – is gathering donors to beta-test its product: a saliva test that measures your telomere length.

After the crowdfunders give their feedback, Titanovo will fine-tune the $89 test and later this year provide it on their own platform. An exact timeline of results and further development will depend on how much data is gained from this crowdfunding campaign.

Telomeres protect the end of chromosomes from deterioration and their length can be a clear indicator of health, which has piqued the interest of the anti-aging movement.

Titanovo’s technology was developed at the Laboratory of Epigenetics in the Institute of Gerontology in Kiev, Ukraine as a follow up to research done in New Zealand, co-founder Corey McCarren said. The company is self-funded by the founders, McCarren said.

Is the public knowledgeable enough about telomeres to start using these tests in the way people are clamoring for genetic tests? McCarren said that having a measurable way to assess health through telomeres will resonate and be more of an incentive for people to improve their well-being.

Users swab the insides of their cheeks and send it back to Titanovo, which will analyze the swab for anywhere from two to four months. Results show the length of a telomere and compare it to telomere from other types of people: heavy smokers, heavy drinkers, healthy eaters, and so on.

Here’s an example of what the results will look like from Titanovo’s site:

“It’s like looking into yourself and getting real-time feedback,” McCarren said.

McCarren said health-conscious consumers and gerontologists are ideal customers. They would use the test every few months ideally to get an accurate idea of rate of change.

It’s worth wondering whether these tests would fall under FDA scrutiny much like home genetic testing has. However, none of the other telomere test companies have received such scrutiny.

SpectraCell Laboratories and Telomere Diagnostics offer tests and largely target physicians. Another company, TeloMe, used an Indeigogo campaign in 2013 but failed to reach its goal.

McCarren said offering these tests directly to consumers will make them cheaper.

Titanovo’s crowdfunding campaign will wrap up on April 29.