An Overview of Xconomy’s Seattle’s Life Science Disruptors 2016

05.11.2016 | Christie Melby

It’s no secret—Seattle has a hot tech scene. From the industry giants like Amazon, Microsoft, Expedia and Zillow to the new Google and SpaceX offices, Seattle has become a technology powerhouse. The city is also home to an abundance of startup companies that continue to innovate and disrupt countless industries. Given that our firm has worked with a number of tech companies, I like to believe that I have a sense of what is going on in the Seattle tech environment.

However, a few months ago I stumbled across Arivale, a company that is using tech and personal data to develop individualized wellness plans that allow people to improve their health. Arivale collects personal information through tests conducted on DNA, the gut, blood and lifestyle assessments, then provides individuals with their data and assigns them a personal coach to assist in making actionable changes to improve their overall wellness. Once a colleague and I saw that co-founder and CEO, Clayton Lewis, was speaking at Xconomy’s Seattle’s Life Science Disruptors 2016 event, we decided to take the opportunity to hear exactly what the company was up to by attending the conference.

Initially, the company worked with 1,000 clients or pioneers as they like to refer to them, to refine the program, information dashboards, communication styles between coaches and pioneers, etc. From their pioneers, Arivale has come to understand a couple of items. First, that the pioneers value the time with their coaches and the advice they provide that allows them to turn information into action. Because of this, the coaching aspect will continue to play and integral part in the company’s program. Second, people are not focused on the long-term effects of their choices. For example, Lewis mentioned that when presented with the opportunity to eat a cupcake, the initial thought is that it will taste good right now, not, that the choice of eating it may lead to diabetes ten years down the line.

Arivale has come to understand that people want experiences and by explaining that wellness will allow them to partake in the experiences they want to have, whether its attending their child’s college graduation or climbing Mt. Everest, it makes their health more tangible and inspires them to make the necessary changes.

In order to make the program available to a larger audience, Arivale is working with a few major corporations to roll out availability of their program, though Lewis didn’t mention which ones. He also mentioned that the data they collect through testing has made a significant impact on people’s health and a lot of people that stand to benefit from their programming. In the future, Arivale is hoping to work with breast cancer survivors, people whose bodies have experienced harsh treatments and need help getting back to a baseline of normal health. Arivale has a number of exciting items planned for the future and we are looking forward to watching them develop!

Fortunately, Arivale was not the only company that left us impressed. M3 Biotechnology founded and led by CEO, Leen Kawas, is tackling Alzheimer’s disease by targeting small molecules and focusing on specific targets. Currently there are no therapies, cures or preventions for this disease, simply treatments that slow the disease or cover the symptoms. While Kawas made it clear that M3 is not creating a cure for Alzheimer’s, it is developing an anti-aging, disease-modifying treatment. Ideally, once the treatment is finalized, it will be in a form that people could easily use in their homes, something like a pill or EpiPen. She realizes that by making the treatment simple and accessible, it will have the largest impact on people affected by the disease.

Not only is the treatment impressive, but Kawas herself has had a very interesting and dynamic background that has led her to her position today. With a passion and drive to create value, she began her career as a pharmacist in Jordan before pursuing her PhD at Washington State University, focusing on cancer treatments. Once she realized that her findings could be applied to Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases, Kawas founded M3 Biotechnology. Once she was able to get people and investors interested in the concept, she did not have plans to stay on as CEO, but her passion and understanding of what M3 needed to be successful, led her to take on the CEO role. We are looking forward to M3’s future successes and the company’s impact on Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases.

Overall, the Xconomy event was a great snapshot of Seattle-based companies, non-profits and research facilities that are making innovative strives in the areas of biotech. It will be exciting to follow these organizations as they continue to make ground-breaking strides that impact and improve the health and wellness or people around the globe.


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