Helix, Azumio partner up to offer DNA sequencing through mobile app

By Jeff Lagasse
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Azumio, a health and fitness platform, is tag-teaming with personal genomics company Helix to bring DNA sequencing to consumers.

The former is introducing full-exome DNA-based insights into its Calorie Mama AI app, with the goal of giving users a means of reaching their fitness goals through greater personalization. Calorie Mama AI is a smart camera app that simplifies calorie and nutrition tracking through food image recognition, automatically tracks physical activity, and provides meal and workout plans for weight loss.

It’s the collaboration with Helix that’s making the move possible. Thanks to the partnership, Azumio will allow users to have their DNA sequenced, and incorporate genetic insights based on findings from peer-reviewed scientific studies to gain a deeper understanding of their body and its unique needs.

The company claims these insights, combined with the new DNA-based nutrition and workout plans, will enable users to reach their personal nutrition and fitness goals faster and more efficiently.

Calorie Mama AI will include genetic data that provides new insights on BMI predisposition, Omega-3 fatty acid needs, the effects of saturated fat and sugary beverages on body weight, gluten sensitivity, muscle type and strength, aptitude for power versus endurance activities, and risk of ACL and other sports injuries -- thereby enabling the creation of more personalized and more effective meal and workout plans for weight loss.

"Our vision for Calorie Mama AI is to usher in the next generation of personal wellness apps that would make healthy living easier than ever before," said Tom Xu, co-founder of Azumio, in a statement. "By adding genetic insights we provide an additional layer of personalization to ensure that every user receives an experience that is as unique as they are."

Calorie Mama AI's DNA-based insights are available on the newly launched Helix marketplace, along with a range of DNA-powered products focused on ancestry, entertainment, family, fitness, health and nutrition.

The way it works is that users visit Helix.com to purchase Calorie Mama AI's DNA-based personalized meal and workout plans for $189, which includes a saliva collection kit, as well as a one-time DNA sequencing cost of $80. Once the saliva sample is returned, Helix reads the DNA, Azumio translates the data and delivers the results to the user through the app. Existing Helix customers who have already been sequenced can instantly access genetic insights and DNA-based meal and workout plans, either through Helix or the Calorie Mama AI app, for an annual subscription fee of $99.

"Helix's open platform is designed to make DNA-based insights accessible and relevant to everyone by offering products that enhance various aspects of day-to-day life," said Justin Kao, co-founder and SVP of Helix. "We're excited to partner with an innovative developer like Azumio to bring the power of each person's unique genetic data to provide personalized fitness and nutrition plans through their portfolio of apps, starting with Calorie Mama."

Calorie Mama AI is available as a free app on both the App Store and Google Play. DNA-based insights are currently only supported on iOS, but will be available soon on the Android platform.

The partnership is the latest in a slew of them for Helix. Last fall, the company announced several partnerships: the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, National Geographic and ExploraGen will collaborate to deploy Helix’s genetic-testing service, which is powered by DNA sequencing giant Illumina. Additionally, the company secured an investment from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and the company also recently announced a partnership with genetic information company Invitae.

And just last week, Helix entered into a partnership with Kindara, a company focused on creating digital tools for women’s health and fertility. Together the two will create Kindara DNA, an at-home DNA test designed to sync with Kindara’s fertility tracking app. The test will deliver insights on nutrition, fitness, and wellness and guide users’ conversations with their healthcare providers.