“I have no medical or scientific background at all,” says Gordon Horwitz, CEO and founder of Allostatix
. “My background is entrepreneurial; I’ve built three or four successful companies in my life by looking for a need that needs to be fulfilled.”
In this case, that need was his own.
Horwitz, who was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome in 1992 despite an active lifestyle – he’s even a spinning instructor – was feeling “just lousy.” Like many chronic fatigue patients, his blood work and physical exam were normal. Still, day-to-day his energy lagged.
With the help of Robert Ludke, a public health expert from the University of Cincinnati, and statistician Ken Rothe, Horwitz fueled the creation of a simple blood test that may predict the development of chronic health issues and malaise in seemingly healthy people.
The test involves measuring biomarkers in a blood sample to measure allostatic load. Allostasis is the body’s adaptive response to stressors, and it’s driven by the nervous system. Exposure to constant stress threatens internal balance, and can wear on your body. Allostatix’s tool measures this wear and tear with the hopes of alerting even asymptomatic people that their body is under stress.
By delivering a custom report to physicians, the tool helps identify which specific actions, such as meditation or dietary changes, might best address the specific biomarkers measured, lower the allostatic load and prevent trends from turning in to trouble. “We’re trying to drive costs out of the system by intervening early,” Horwitz says.
His next goal? To make his company’s allostatic load testing as ubiquitous as cholesterol screenings, especially for people 65 and older, who often receive annual screenings. He also hopes to further partnerships with research universities – the company is already collaborating with scientists at the Ohio State University -- for ongoing product development.
By Robin Donovan