Demonstrating the power of preventive health

Partially-funded as part of the Union’s response to the Covid 19 pandemic.

Published studies

Genetic risk scores

The necessity of incorporating non-genetic risk factors into polygenic risk score models

The growing public interest in DNA presents a big opportunity for care providers and policymakers to engage people in preventive health actions. Yet, many of the commercially available genetic risk reports are of limited value, as they fail to consider other vital (non-genetic) factors that influence a person’s health risks.

In our new research paper, modelled with genetic and lifestyle data from 500,000 individuals, we observe how genetic risk predictions become vastly more accurate when non-genetic risk factors are added to an individual’s DNA analysis. Suppliers can obtain data on such risk factors by asking users to fill out a short online questionnaire.

Authors: van Dam S, Folkertsma P, et al.


Lifestyle therapeutics

Development and validation of decision rules models to stratify coronary artery disease, diabetes, and hypertension risk in preventive care: cohort study of returning UK Biobank participants.

A common problem across the healthcare industry is that patient risk prediction models fail to distinguish between clinical risk – which requires medical or pharmacological interventions – and pre-clinical risk, for which lifestyle interventions are most effective.

In this study, we demonstrated that Ancora’s methodology outperforms commonly used clinical risk models among 60,782 UK Biobank participants.

Authors: Castela Forte J, Folkertsma P, Gannamani R, et al.



Changes in Blood Lipid Levels After a Digitally Enabled Cardiometabolic Preventive Health Program: Pre-Post Study in an Adult Dutch General Population Cohort

In this research paper, we analyze aggregate data from participants enrolled in one of our preventive health programs to study the association between lifestyle changes and improvements in lipid levels. In the participants who did a remeasurement after the completion of the program, lipid levels improved over time, including in participants who crossed clinical thresholds.

Authors: Castela Forte J, Gannamani R, Folkertsma P, et al.


Micronutrient imbalances

A pilot study on the prevalence of micronutrient imbalances in a Dutch general population cohort and the effects of a digital lifestyle program

In this study we explored the incidence of vitamin and mineral imbalances in a general population cohort of Dutch adults, and evaluated the effect of a digital, lifestyle program on the nutritional status and nutrition health behaviors of these individuals. We identified at least one nutritional imbalance in more than 86% of participants. After intervention, a total of 80% improved and normalized B6, 67% improved folate, 70% improved B12, and 86% improved vitamin D. These preliminary results show nutritional imbalances can be sustainably corrected with adequate behavioral support complemented with supplementation where needed.

Authors: Castela Forte J, Gannamani R, Folkertsma P, et al.


Blood pressure

Effect of a Digitally-Enabled, Preventive Health Program on Blood Pressure in an Adult, Dutch General Population Cohort: An Observational Pilot Study

Digital, lifestyle-based interventions are a promising alternative to standard care for hypertension prevention and management. In this study we assessed the prevalence of elevated and high blood pressure in a Dutch general population cohort undergoing a health screening, and observed the effects of a subsequent self-initiated, digitally-enabled lifestyle program on blood pressure regulation. Participants with elevated SBP and DBP at baseline showed a mean decrease of 7.2 mmHg and 5.4 mmHg, respectively. Additionally, 70% and 72.5% of participants showed an improvement in systolic and diastolic blood pressure at remeasurement.

Authors: Castela Forte J, Folkertsma P, Gannamani R, et al.


Upcoming Publications

Genetic risk

Polygenic risk scores for preventive health

In this study, we apply our unique polygenic risk score algorithms to develop several risk prediction models including and excluding these additional variables using UK Biobank data. When validating these models in both the UK Biobank as well as the Lifelines cohort, we show that these models vastly outperform predictions based on genetic risk alone, and that polygenic risk is far more meaningful for lifestyle conditions when in conjunction with other variables.

Collaborations with partners

Pharmacogenetic passports

Implementation and potential effectiveness of pharmacogenetic passports

Several studies show that people’s genes may influence the effectiveness of the medicine they take. Because of genetic susceptibilities, a drug may not work well for some people. For others, the same medicine may work too well, leading to side effects. To help make the correct treatment choices, a ‘pharmacogenetic passport’ could offer a solution. This would describe which drugs a person should take, and in which dosage, based on their genetic profile.

To date, studies in this area have focused on smaller groups. Therefore, we took the lead and constructed a Proof Of Concept (POC)-tool that can be deployed to conduct pharmacogenetic assessments on large cohorts utilizing genotyping chip information as input. It is important to us that this POC-tool adheres to the guidelines and standards of the widely recognized Europese Clinical Farmacogenetics Implementation Consortium (CPIC). To assess this, we conducted a validation on 80.000 statin users (statins are a type of medicine that lower cholesterol). We assessed what pharmaco genetics effects can be detected in this cohort to clarify the added value to medical specialist when determining the correct medication- and dosing advise.

Partially-funded as part of the Union’s response to the Covid 19 pandemic.

Virtual reality for mental health

Innovative project to develop a VR-enhanced treatment for anxiety disorders

Together with innovative VR and game development company Lion Castle, Ancora is developing a virtual reality enhanced solution for PTSD and anxiety disorders. This project forms the first step towards an expansion of Ancora’s digital therapeutics platform into the clinical support domain for mental healthcare, and reaffirms the flexibility and scalability of the platform across multiple conditions.

Type 2 diabetes remission

Diabetyping for personalized diabetes reversal

Type 2 diabetes has multiple causes. Therefore, different patients benefit from different types of interventions. Together with TNO and primary and secondary care facilities in the Hague and Eindhoven, we are studying how to optimize subtyping-based treatment approaches in the context of personalised diabetes lifestyle interventions.

Diabetes in northern Netherlands

Diabetes reversal through lifestyle

Together with Healthy Ageing Network Noord Nederland and UMCG Groningen, we are studying how to enable blended care for diabetic patients in the region by integrating nutrition, activity, sleep, and mindfulness data with smart health data such as glucose monitoring.

Artificial intelligence (AI)

AI-powered preventive health and behavioral change

As a member of the Netherlands AI Coalition, an association that stimulates cutting-edge technology initiatives, we participate in the Health and Healthcare Work Group. With this group, we are working together with other industry leaders to identify the most significant opportunities and challenges in the field of healthcare. We aim to be at the forefront of AI-powered health behavior change in order to empower people to own their health and achieve the benefits of lifestyle improvement.