The shocking gender bias which has long existed within medical research is lessening women's quality of life, and even putting lives at risk. Started by Anna Villarreal in May 2017, LifeStory Health are a biotech company disrupting the women's healthcare market through technology, innovation and vocalization. LifeStory works to bridge the gap and disrupt the biased healthcare industry.
The differing susceptibility to adverse drug effects (ADEs) between women and men has been gaining more media traction of late. For example, 14 individual studies have shown that women are more impaired than men when driving after taking zolpidem (10 mg) the previous night.
For every one study into premenstrual syndrome, there are five studies into erectile dysfunction. Yet 90% of women suffer from PMS, while just 19% of men report struggling with erectile dysfunction. Additionally, the first-ever scientific statement about women and heart disease highlights other disparities between sexes. Within the year of a first heart attack, survival rates are lower in women than in men. Within five years, 47% of the women will die, develop heart failure, or suffer from a stroke, compared with just 36% of the men.
(Graph courtesy of LifeStory Health)
Anna's pioneering vision has so far led to the mapping of the menstrual blood proteome through a set of resolute, data-leading principles. These discoveries are the bedrock of a groundbreaking technology which is paving the way to novel diagnostic and therapeutic targets. The vast implications in the women's healthcare space are very exciting — from both a patient advocacy standpoint and a commercial perspective. LifeStory Health has the potential to materialize into a successful operating public company that would be both profitable for shareholders and positive for women's public health.
We spoke with Anna about how they are disrupting the healthcare industry with their motto of 'letting the data lead':
How are you using data to transform women's healthcare?
LifeStory Health is using data to drive the direction of the Company through a set of resolute, data leading principles that lead us to indications for novel diagnostics and potential therapeutic targets.
I define 'Letting the data lead' as a term to describe the act of a judgement-free approach to letting results be the basis of one’s decisions. This concept exists in mathematics – think big data and the Bayesian approach companies take. Bayesian inference is a method of statistical inference in which Bayes‘ theorem is used to update the probability for a hypothesis as more evidence or information becomes available.
Within the pharmaceutical industry, letting the data lead has resulted in the development of blockbuster drugs, generating billions of dollars in sales. More importantly, these drugs have improved the lives of people around the world.
A great example of letting the data lead was in the discovery of Viagra – the first treatment for erectile dysfunction. Pfizer originally introduced the chemical slatternly, the active drug in Viagra, as a heart medication. While clinical trials proved Viagra was ineffective for heart conditions, the data led Pfizer to discover that the little blue pill worked for something much different. Viagra recorded $1.6 billion in global sales for 2016, and Pfizer is likely still relishing in their success of letting the data lead.
Insulin is another innovation from letting the data lead. In 1889, two Parisian doctors attempting to understand how the pancreas affects digestion removed the organ from a healthy dog. Days later, they noticed flies swarming around the dog’s urine, which was unusual and unanticipated. They tested the urine, and after finding sugar in it, realized they gave the dog diabetes. However, it wasn’t until the early 1900’s that researchers were able to figure out that what the pancreas produced actually regulated blood sugar. The researchers were able to isolate a pancreatic secretion that they called insulin, a discovery that would win them the Nobel Peace Prize. The pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly went on to realize the value of insulin and began selling it within a year after the discovery.
The ability of these companies to improve the lives of millions is truly a result of letting the data lead. LifeStory Health is positioned to impact women on a macro level by letting the data lead; we have discovered the ability to stratify women into subgroups to improve prospects of gender-neutral clinical trials and continue to perform analysis on additional proteins to determine clinical opportunity, specific to degenerative diseases and oncology.
How is Lifestory empowering women?
As Founder and CEO of the bio-science company LifeStory Health Inc. (“LSH”), I am focused on empowering women to make educated decisions about their health. One aspect to this is by bringing awareness to the gender bias in healthcare and driving solutions for the scientific and medical community to better understand female biology. A solution that I have witnessed firsthand is the concept of “letting the data lead” in the scientific discovery process. This is a core principle of my company. Focusing on “letting the data lead” has resulted in truly groundbreaking discoveries that will play a significant role in the future of women’s health.
For LifeStory Health, letting the data lead has allowed us to discover more about female biology. It has also initiated surprising opportunities and has allowed LSH to impact a much larger patient population than originally thought. Unexpected sources of revenue have come to fruition including a data marketplace that will use blockchain, a rapid path to market is on the horizon, and inclusion in global standards of LSH’s practice of sex specific research is a reality.