A startup is using biogenetics and AI to provide life insurance customers with an insight into their biological age
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Spotted: Startup FOXO Technologies is using epigenetic technology and artificial intelligence (AI) to determine an individual’s biological age and the rate of cell ageing as well as other health insights. This information is then used to offer tailored life insurance.
An individual’s biological age—as opposed to their calendar age—is a measure of the rate at which their cells are ageing. Biological age can be influenced through lifestyle factors (smoking, exercise for example), and by physiological factors – such as transcription factors that coordinate the action of genes involved in cellular metabolism and resistance to oxidative stress.
FOXO has licensed research into transcription factors and epigenetic biomarkers developed at the Horvath Lab at UCLA to develop an epigenetic clock, which estimates biological aging in humans. The company’s epigenetic products include a mortality predictor, a measure of predictions for a variety of ageing outcomes, and a measure of ageing acceleration to predict all-cause mortality.
FOXO’s epigenetic testing analysis uses an at-home test where the customer spits in a tube and posts it back. The company then uses microarray technology to analyse the epigenetic signatures in the saliva, and runs the de-identified data through AI learning models to generate a personalised longevity report.
Crucially, the company claims that, although its report is used in underwriting life insurance products, the goal is not to deny coverage based on biological age, but to help people improve their longevity by highlighting ways they can improve their biological age. Erin Sharoni, Chief Product Officer at FOXO’s life insurance company, FOXO Life, explains that the company does not use epigenetic technology “to penalise people for their state of health or rate of aging. …The use of epigenetics … provides additional value, at no cost to the insurance policyholder, to give them a snapshot of their longevity and wellness without the usual invasive blood or urine specimen collection process [common in life insurance].”
FOXO is just one of several companies using AI and advanced testing to improve insurance options for individuals. Springwise has seen other innovations in insurance provision that range from a platform to handle the onerous task of insurance administration and a startup offering insurance-as-a-service.
Written By: Lisa Magloff