We have a new blog series that features each of our lab partners so that you can get to know them better! Next up is Diagnostic Solutions. We had a great conversation with Tony Hoffman, CEO, to learn more about Diagnostic Solutions, how they started it, and the technology behind their tests.
Introducing Diagnostic Solutions!
Hi Tony! Let's dive in - tell us about how and why Diagnostic Solutions was started.
We were founded 5 years ago in 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. I started my career in the integrative laboratory industry over 25 years ago, first as a laboratory technician in microbiology, then I moved into technical support, sales, and finally business development.
This put me at the forefront of the planning, management, and launch of four successful stool analysis laboratories, with ownership in two of them. My previous experience spans every aspect of laboratory operations, from the laboratory bench to where I am now at the CEO’s desk. Over the years I've become an expert in the ecology of the gastrointestinal microbiome, as measured by both traditional culture techniques and next-generation DNA analysis. Through all my experience, I had a unique perspective into the needs of clinicians which guided me to the develop test profiles, a unique business model and successful business operations at Diagnostic Solutions Laboratory.
Great back story! It is amazing you've had such a wide range of experience with the integrative lab industry. What is the main focus at your lab?
Well, our mission is to deliver innovative, accurate and clinically relevant diagnostic testing in a timely and cost-effective manner. This translates into our focus which is identifying the underlying root causes of symptoms and shed insight into what antibiotics, pharmaceuticals, or pharmacogenomics will work in synergy with the patient’s unique microbiome, single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and antibiotic resistance genes.
Our commitment is to serve the clinical needs of health care providers with cutting-edge laboratory medicine by utilizing proven methodologies that are accurate and reliable. By working with experienced clinicians and opinion leaders throughout multiple medical disciplines we are able to build assays that are clinically relevant and provide actionable results. Test results provide functional medicine practitioners the tools needed to personalize treatment for optimized patient outcomes.
What technology do you use at your lab?
Although qPCR is becoming more commonplace in in-vitro diagnostics (IVD), we are the only laboratory in the United States exclusively using qPCR technology for advanced comprehensive stool testing. This technology is used routinely in clinical and academic research because it provides highly accurate quantification, as well as high levels of sensitivity and specificity. Standard PCR technology doesn't offer the same level of sensitivity, or the ability to express precise numerical results.
In qPCR, all of the organisms tested are run separately, and in duplicate, which makes it possible to measure each organism accurately. There is no competition for chemical reagents in the same well that could lead to variation in the results. The GI-MAP can measure higher and lower amounts of genomic DNA than before (also expressed as, “having a larger analytical range”). All results are quantitative instead of qualitative (positive or negative). The GI-MAP is used to quantify gene expression, analyze single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), determine genotypes, detect pathogens, validate drug targets, and measure RNA interference.
The method measures the 16S or 23S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) regions and other target-specific gene fragments to detect bacteria. It also measures virulence factors and viral targets (RNA). Accurate measurement of DNA targets relies on two molecular methods: amplification and hybridization. Amplification is the process of making many copies of the target gene. Hybridization matches the target gene to a complementary DNA sequence in a lock-and-key manner.
Thanks for the details! Your tech sounds very unique. What are the main conditions practitioners are using your labs to diagnose and treat?
Gastrointestinal dysfunction, cytokine imbalance, genomic health, as well as SARS-CoV-2 virus (the virus responsible for COVID-19).
What is your favorite part about being in this industry?
We get regular messages from practitioners telling us how our testing has changed and improved their patient’s lives. We are acutely aware that behind every test is a patient that wants to feel better. Knowing that we impact lives in a positive way is our favorite part of being in the healthcare industry.
I love being in this industry for the same reason. What is your future vision for functional medicine lab work?
The future of Diagnostic Solutions will be focused on creating additional innovative laboratory tests that provide new insights into patient health.
We cannot wait to see what you come out with! What are you working on right now as a lab? What do practitioners have to look forward to?
We have recently introduced three testing options to diagnose and manage SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Testing options include the COVID-19 Nasopharyngeal (NP) Swab Collection, the COVID-19 IgG/IgM Antibody Test, and the SARS-CoV-2 Stool Analysis.
Anything else interesting, funny, or noteworthy you’d like practitioners to know about your lab?
Yes - We provide practitioners with the highest quality medical education. Our Resource Library houses articles, webinars and blogs that dive into topics related to gut health, autoimmune health, and more. We invite practitioners to visit our Resource Library often, as content is constantly being added!
The most commonly ordered tests are:
1. GI-MAP® Microbial Assay Plus:
The GI-MAP® stool test utilizes cutting edge, quantitative PCR technology to provide a true DNA/PCR based stool analysis. The GI-MAP test evaluates bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasitic pathogens. It provides unmatched insight into gut health and includes information about antibiotic resistance and virulence factors. Furthermore, the GI-MAP offers valuable insight into patient microbiome by reporting on commensal and normal bacterial flora.
The GI-MAP's accuracy and reliability allows practitioners to create personalized treatment protocols to address gut dysfunction based on which infections are urgent, which areas of the gut are already optimized, and which areas should be addressed after an infection is resolved.
Additionally, the quantification offers a remarkable ability to see how treatment modalities are working because a retest after treatment can show whether a parasite has resolved, dysbiosis has improved, and more. The GI-MAP was designed to detect microbes that may be disturbing normal microbial balance or contributing to illness as well as indicators of digestion, absorption, inflammation, and immune function.
The test only requires a single, small sample that patients can conveniently collect at home. This is helpful for all patients, but particularly for children or any patients struggling with constipation, diarrhea, or logistical complications for whom multiple samples may present additional complications. The turn-around-time is only 5-7 working days, allowing for a more rapid receipt of results and implementation of clinical intervention.
2. GenomicInsight Powered by Opus23™
This is a clinical DNA test that analyzes single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs).
GenomicInsight ®reports on over 3,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in one comprehensive functional DNA test. Online results include therapeutic recommendations backed by the latest medical literature from PubMed, GWAS (genome wide association study), dbSNP, HapMap (haplotype map) and several others.
Data gleaned from Genomic Insight ® informatics uses the latest medical literature to provide relevant information on nutraceuticals, nutritional supplements, diet, and lifestyle interventions that can proactively influence a patient’s SNPs to reduce or prevent disease risk. Furthermore, pharmacogenomic results included in the profile allow practitioners to predict the efficacy of select pharmaceuticals tailored the individual’s genetic make-up.
GenomicInsight allows practitioners to take personalized medicine and precision medicine to the next level. Curated reports identify what disease risks a patient may have, what nutraceutical or pharmacological drugs their genome will best react to, and what lifestyle factors can help prevent a harmful gene from expressing itself.
Practitioners can choose from the following categories of autogenerated reports:
- Energy Metabolism
- Estrogen Genomics
- Androgen Genomics
In the field of DNA testing and precision medicine, GenomicInsight is the most dynamic and comprehensive test available.
3. CytoDx® Panel Enables Practitioners to Assess Systemic Immune Status
The CytoDx Panel evaluates 16 cytokines, which are key mediators in many immune responses. Studies indicate that cytokine imbalance plays a key role in chronic inflammation and autoimmune disease.
Autoimmune conditions are prevalent throughout the world. Evaluation of the cytokine response can help practitioners assess immune status and personalize medicine by linking the critical gut-immune connection.
- Pro-inflammatory / anti-inflammatory cytokine balance
- Th1, Th2, Th17 and T-regulatory cytokine responses
- Efficacy of immune balancing and modulating approaches
List of 16 Cytokines: GM-CSF, IL-1beta, IL-2, IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, IL-7, IL-8, IL-10, IL-12 P70, IL-13, IL-15, IL-17A, IL-18, IFN-gamma, TNF-alpha