Oxolife and Droplite start-ups are achieving excellent results that reduce risks
It is estimated that infertility affects over 75 million women around the world and over 3 million assisted reproductive techniques are performed each year. In Spain, assisted reproduction treatments have increased by 28% in the last 5 years. 9% of Spanish babies are the result of Assisted Reproduction treatment. Therefore, Spain is also among the top three countries worldwide for in vitro fertilisation treatments after the United States and Japan, with Catalonia, Madrid and the Valencian Community being where this type of intervention is most performed. In Europe, over 800,000 treatment cycles were carried out and over 157,000 babies were born from them.
It is striking that 22% of the women who began an in vitro fertilisation process were over 40 years old. Therefore, there is a social change in terms of the delay in maternity of the population that has resulted in the rise of these treatments to achieve pregnancy. Pregnancy rates from assisted reproductive techniques seem stabilised at around 36% in Europe. The success rate of IVF is between 40 and 60% in each cycle.
In vitro fertilisation is the most effective method, however, it continues to involve several risks: multiple births, premature delivery, ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), spontaneous abortion or ectopic pregnancy. Factors such as age still influence the results. Furthermore, IVF can be time consuming, expensive and invasive. In short, despite being the most effective way to improve fertility or prevent genetic problems to help in the conception of a child, there are still unmet needs that can improve this method.
From GENESIS Biomed, we support different projects to improve the process and results of this technique.
Two projects currently underway
One of those projects is OXOLIFE, a biotechnology start-up founded in 2013 and committed to improving female fertility. OXOLIFE is currently developing OXO-001, a sodium tungstate drug that increases the probability of embryo implantation by 65%. Today there is no pharmacological intervention on the market that improves the implantation process through a direct effect on the endometrium. OXO-001 is the first drug of its kind to increase embryo implantation and pregnancy rates.
DROPLITE, the other start-up, is developing a diagnostic kit for the quantification of sex hormones for the treatment of in vitro fertilisation. This application is part of the development of a new lab-on-a-chip device, which is capable of performing rapid immunoassay tests with the quality and reliability of a central laboratory using a single drop blood sample. To this end, a combination of different technologies and specialisations is used, ranging from optics, nanotechnology and microfluidics, to immunochemistry and biology. In the words of Josep Lluís Falcó, founder and CEO of GENESIS Biomed: “We invested in Droplite because we see their device as a solution with great potential in the health and diagnostic sector. Furthermore, its origin from the ICFO (Institute of Photonics Sciences, located in the Barcelona Science Park), a world reference research centre in the field of photonics, adds credibility and a solid training”.