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 Vibrant America Clinical Labs! We had a great conversation with Kate Pollock, RDN, Territory Sales Manager, to learn more about Vibrant America Clinical Labs, how they started it, and the technology behind their tests.
Introducing Vibrant America Clinical Labs!
Hey Kate! Great to chat with you! You've been with Vibrant America for some time now, right? Where are y'all located?
I've been with Vibrant America for 5 years now! I am the Territory Sales Manager for NorCal, Oregon and Washington. Our CLIA and CAP accredited lab is located in San Carlos, CA.
As one of the leaders in the functional testing space, what's your main focus at Vibrant?
Antibody testing is our specialty! :-) We serve a variety of practitioners from MD's to DO's to ND's, RDN's, PA's, NP's, LAc's practicing functional medicine (they just must have an NPI #!) looking to offer their patients support around anti-body testing.
That is great - Antibody testing has been in the news quite a lot lately with the COVID-19 pandemic. How has this affected the lab?
Right now COVID is one of our most ordered tests :-) At the moment it requires serum, but the Finger prick COVID testing hopefully will be available soon. It is run on our proprietary microchip. Ours is the MOST comprehensive COVID antibody panel on the market. We test 4 different proteins (or parts) of the virus and IgM, IgA, and IgG antibodies to each protein -- 12 results total in the panel.
We will also soon be reporting quantitative values. The main use of this test is to determine if a patient has been exposed to SARS Cov2 and if they have mounted an antibody response.
Awesome! It is exciting to hear how quick the labs are moving in response to COVID.
How long has Vibrant America been in business?
We established our R&D microchip in 2008. John Rajasekaran, our CEO, was one of the head engineers that helped develop the Intel Processor chip. After retiring from Intel, struggling with some health-related issues and the ability to find reasonably priced, high accuracy lab testing, John (or "JJ", a Bay-Area tech entrepreneur), set out to work with a group of colleagues for 8 years developing the bio-chip that we do all of our antibody testing on! It has since been validated on and for many different platforms and on average has about a 97-99% sensitivity and 98-100% specificity.
Cool backstory! Can you tell us more about the technology you use at your lab?
Vibrant America is a leading science and technology company delivering life-transforming laboratory services. Our vision is to enable symptom-based diagnostics and prognostics for Autoimmune disease and other chronic diseases using an integrated micro-array platform that would enable multiplex testing at an affordable cost.
Our science-driven approach has resulted in numerous products and services in a range of diseases, including allergy, autoimmune like Celiac, connective tissue, rheumatoid arthritis and infectious diseases.
My best and much simplified description is that we purchase silicon microchips that millions of other companies use. Our technology team developed a way to essentially laser a code onto the chip for whatever amino acid, peptide, antigen or protein we wish. In a second machine we introduce the chip to the amino acid, peptide, antigen, or protein and it locks into place on the chip. In a third machine we introduce the blood to the chip and antibodies in the blood lock onto the antigens. A computer reads out a digital measurement of the antibody-antigen connections in a microarray.
The beauty is that it is an automated process with little if any real human interaction which massively improves the sensitivity and specificity of the testing. We are able to test for as many as 66,000 peptides/antibodies in a space the size of your fingernail!
So cool - thanks for putting that into layman's terms for us! 🤓 What are the main conditions practitioners are using your labs to diagnose and treat?
Autoimmune diseases, fatigue, skin inflammation, brain fog, joint pain, GI disorders, nutritional deficiencies, weight gain/loss, headaches, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, etc.
What is your favorite part about being in this industry?
That we are helping people get to the root cause of what is wrong and helping heal them from the inside out. I actually have lupus so it's been refreshing to meet so many providers that have had success stories working with patients to get them better through lab testing to identify the problem and then putting them on the proper diet, exercise, and supplement plan to help boost their own healing power inside.
You bring up an interesting point - so many of us get into this industry from experiencing a personal struggle that lead us to functional medicine. I think that is why there is so much passion in the industry!
That being said, what is your future vision for functional medicine lab work?
We are always getting feedback from providers about new tests they would like to see. The best thing about Vibrant is that often it's just a matter of programming a new chip, running the validations and within a couple months we can launch a new, highly sensitive and specific test!
What are you working on right now as a lab? What do practitioners have to look forward to?
We just recently launched the ability to run all our blood-based wellness tests via an at home finger prick but hope to expand that to our entire test menu in the next year.
Anything else interesting, funny, or noteworthy you’d like practitioners to know about your lab?
We are a Bay-area start up so it's always an adventure! We made the switch over to cash-only and no insurance this February which we thought would be a struggle but our providers have embraced it and we have come out the other side stronger than ever! And we truly all love what we do and love that we are able to provide something unique to our providers. It's never boring at Vibrant -- that test menu is CONSTANTLY improving! :-)
Love that! We at Rupa can relate as another Bay-area start-up!
Here are the 4 most commonly ordered tests from Vibrant America:
1) Wheat Zoomer
It is our flagship test for gluten sensitivity that includes a traditional celiac panel, an Intestinal Permeability panel, and 40 different gluten peptide IgG, IgA and IgM antibody markers including gluteomorphin, glutenins, gliadins and a whole non-gluten wheat panel. Again it is THE MOST comprehensive gluten antibody panel on the market. Finger prick DBS and serum available and run on our proprietary microchip. Used to determine if the patient has a sensitivity to wheat and if they should avoid it to help reduce inflammation in the body.
This test is a urine-based assay for 31 of the most common mycotoxins produced by molds to which humans are exposed -- the highest number tested for the price. This test is measured on mass spectrometry, using Vibrant’s patent-pending proprietary technology, to produce the most accurate and clinically relevant assessment of difficult-to-detect toxins that can cause serious disease in humans. Vibrant is able to detect mycotoxins, small molecules, as small as 5 pcg, which greatly expands the number of available mycotoxins detected. Individuals most at risk for mycotoxin exposure include those who live or work in older buildings, those who have known exposure to water-damaged buildings, and those with impaired immune responses or higher levels of oxidative stress.
Mycotoxins complicate human health in a number of ways and their presence in the human body can lead to a number of serious health concerns, including autoimmune and neurological diseases and cancer. Consider screening for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, connective tissue disorders, celiac disease, tick borne illness, confections and neurological autoimmunity along with mycotoxin testing. Treatment of mycotoxin exposure should include a holistic approach to eradicate the mold from the individual, thorough and professional removal of mold from environmental sources, and continued testing to monitor reductions in mycotoxin levels post-intervention.
3) Food Sensitivity panel for 96 foods; IgG and IgA
Our Complete Food Profile is an array of 209 commonly consumed food antigens (and 57 Food Additives) which offers very specific antibody-to-antigen recognition. This panel measures an individual’s IgG AND IgA sensitivity to food antigens. Being able to test IgA antibodies provides additional information to foods that may be causing mucosal damage. Additionally, this test is ideal for patients who might be suffering from delayed reactions to certain foods. Using an antibody-based food sensitivity test can help prioritize the necessary foods to eliminate and create a customized diet plan around the patient’s specific needs.
Our patented technology and reporting allow for high sensitivity, quantitative detection of Intracellular and Extracellular micronutrients for a thorough understanding of your short and long term nutritional status and requirements. High Accuracy and high precision testing is achieved by automation and advanced Mass Spectrometry methodology. Clinically relevant RBC Folate, Omega fatty acids and Magnesium are measured. WBC levels are normalized to total WBC count. We have a fast TAT of 14 calendar days and our support team of highly qualiﬁed expert dietitians is available to provide support on dietary plans and supplementation for patients!