Four years after it promised to revolutionize healthcare with a wellness paradigm focused on personalized, data-driven, preventive coaching for consumers, Arivale has shut down its operations and laid off all of its approximately 120 employees.
“Our decision to do so is attributable to the simple fact that the cost of providing the service exceeds what our customers can pay for it,” Arivale said in a statement posted yesterday on its website.
Based in Seattle, Arivale sought to bring the benefits of genomics to patients by providing them with information that was meaningful enough for them to manage their health, long before the appearance of illness.
Instead of simply offering advice on diet and exercise, Arivale analyzed each client’s genome, clinical chemistries lifestyle, and microbiome, with the goal of generating individualized insights—for example, identifying genetic variants that could raise the risk of someone putting on weight, and pinpointing how much exercise was needed to shed the resulting pounds.
“We believe the costs of collecting the genetic, blood and microbiome assays that form the foundation of the program will eventually decline to a point where the program can be delivered to consumers cost-effectively. However, we are unable to continue to operate at a loss until that time arrives.”
That cost had fallen to $99 per month from the $3,500 per year that Arivale charged when it was launched in 2015 by systems biology pioneer Leroy (Lee) Hood, MD, PhD, and Clayton Lewis, the company’s CEO.
Hood is a pioneer of precision medicine, which he called “P4” medicine, as in “predictive, preventive, personalized, and participatory.” He is also a co-founder of the Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) in Seattle, where the paradigm commercialized by Arivale was initially developed; ISB is now a research affiliate of Providence St. Joseph Health, where Hood is chief science officer.
Speaking with Clinical OMICs in 2015, Lewis positioned Arivale as being “in the wellness business, not the healthcare business.
“We believe Arivale will revolutionize healthcare by making it take wellness seriously for the first time,” Lewis predicted. “Wellness is key to preventive medicine and to reversing major diseases at a very, very early state. That, in turn, will transform healthcare.”
In announcing its closing, Arivale said the journal Scientific Reports had recently accepted for publication a scientific paper describing the improvements seen in multiple health markers in ~2500 participants of the company’s program. About 5,000 people took part in the Arivale program over the lifetime of the company, Lewis told GeekWire.
“What is tragic on so many levels is that we were not successful in going out and convincing consumers that you could optimize your wellness and avoid disease with a little bit data and some changes in your lifestyle — that there’s not a market for that product that I believe in passionately,” Lewis said. “And that’s what we were trying to do.”
Arivale had raised $52.6 million in financing, according to Crunchbase—with the most recent round being a $13.6 million Series C financing completed in June 2017.
Arivale’s approximately 120 employees were all laid off, Lewis told GeekWire—touching off an offer of assistance from Luke Timmerman, editor of the Timmerman Report and an author and longtime reporter who has specialized in covering the life sciences in the Seattle region.
“I’ll set aside a few free tickets to Seattle Cancer Summit May 10 @fredhutch to help laid off workers find new job,” Timmerman tweeted yesterday, using the Twitter handle for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.