Trevor Perry knows that he’ll probably develop Alzheimer’s as he gets older. It’s one of the reasons he co-founded a new biotech company, called GoodCell, that keeps your healthy cells safe for the future.
Two of his grandparents — one on each side — have the progressive disease. So, when those DNA tests that can identify your health risks first came out, Perry took them all. Being in the biotech industry, he wanted to take more control over his own health.
From his results, Perry knew an Alzheimer’s diagnosis in his future was likely. But he wasn’t satisfied with just knowing. After taking those tests, he asked himself, “What can I do now?”
The answer: Keep his currently healthy cells in a safe place, so that he can use them as a marker of his own aging.
“As time progresses and I get older, I can look at the biomarkers that we do know are associated with Alzheimer's, [and see] is there a change that’s happened?” he said. “I feel a lot better knowing that I have this because when I’m 60, 65, every single year, I’ll be drawing a tube of blood and seeing what's changed.”
That’s not the only benefit of keeping his cells. Scientists are developing Alzheimer’s treatments — and treatments for other diseases, from cancer to Parkinson’s to diabetes — that use stem cells. Using your own cells from when they were healthiest, before those disease mutations appeared, can help your body heal.
GoodCell, which Perry co-founded with Brad Hamilton, is headquartered in Natick and aims to bring this option of storing your healthy cells for future use to anyone.
Think 23andMe, but with some added steps: Customers can order a kit from the GoodCell website and set up an appointment with a phlebotomist who comes to your home or office to take your blood. That kit is sent to GoodCell’s FDA-approved lab in New Brunswick, New Jersey, where the DNA, blood plasma and stem cells are analyzed and safely stored for the future.
GoodCell’s scientific advisory board boasts top names in the stem cell space: Dr. David Scadden, co-founder of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, Dr. Steve McCarroll, director of genetics at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Dr. Jerome Ritz, a research fellow at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and executive director of Harvard’s Cell Manipulation Core Facility, and so on.
That lineup, Perry said, is proof that this is the future of the medical world. And GoodCell is on the front lines: Perry and Hamilton say they’re the only product on the market to offer this storage option.
“When I did [a DNA test] I found out some great information, and that was fun, but what value does it have for me in the long term?” Perry said. “Value is in the peace of mind, being able to know more about your aging and to age healthier.”
It’s not a cheap service — $995 for the kit, $95 for an annual membership — but does your peace of mind and a potential future, personalized cure have a price tag? To Perry, it’s the ultimate self care.
“It’s a big mission and big vision, but we really want to change the trajectory of medicine. We want to be able to help people age healthier. Not necessarily live longer, but live healthier,” Perry said. “To be able to know how to use your own body, your own cells, to be able to tell how you’re aging and to be able to cure yourself when things happen — that’ll be a big driver of medicine in the future.”