With each year, more scientists and academics are specifically trying to extend human life and make sure those extra years are worth living. Some of these teams focus on finding cancer early as a way to extend life; Some work to improve people’s metabolism.
A small but growing group is also beginning to focus on menopause, which affects half the population and whose appearance is linked to a long list of health conditions, from high blood pressure, “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides, a form of fat in the blood, to, more frighteningly, risk greater risk of breast cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis.
The latest cause-focused group is Gameto, which says it wants to solve “accelerated” ovarian aging to change the course for women’s health and equality.
As the company’s co-founder and CEO, Dina Radinkovic, who studied medicine at University College London and has spent most of her career in computational medicine, explained, the ovaries age up to five times faster than any organ, meaning they stop working far before the liver, or brain, or even the skin. While women are born with a certain number of egg cells – an immature female sex cell that later leads to the formation of a fully mature egg or egg cell – they eventually run out, at which point the ovaries stop functioning as an organ and stop producing the hormones that control a woman’s physiology.
Gameto wants to help delay this process, or even push it forever if the woman chooses, by developing a platform for ovarian therapies that will initially be used to improve the process of assisted reproduction, but eventually will hopefully also be used to identify cellular therapies that can prevent what Radenkovic describes it as the “medical burden” of menopause. When asked for more details, Radinkovic hates to dive into details, but says the young company has already begun testing whether ovarian support cells can help with egg maturation and reduce the number of IVF cycles that many women currently hoping to get pregnant endure. .
“We have strong preclinical evidence to believe in our platform,” she adds of the company headed by serial entrepreneur Martin Varsavsky, whose latest company, Prelude Fertility, has created a national network of fertility centers across the United States.
Some prominent investors are willing to bet on the company as well. Gameto has just raised $20 million in funding led by Future Ventures, whose co-founder, Mariana Sainco, said the company is “extremely excited about the prospect of providing better care for women going through menopause. The suffering caused by menopause is not a biological necessity, and the many complications can be avoided.” associated with menopause, especially early menopause, along with current hormone replacement therapies, which she describes as “sharp hammers that lack customization.” “
Other participants include Bold Capital Partners, Lux Capital, Bloom Alley, TA Ventures, Overwater Ventures, Arch Venture Partners co-founder Robert Nielsen, and 23andMe CEO Ann Wojcicki.
Gameto previously raised $3 million in seed funding last year, including from Atomic founder Jack Abraham, SALT Fund and FJ Labs, Cowato Management founder Dan Rose, and Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong.
Certainly, the market opportunity is huge and the thesis – given that people live longer – makes a lot of sense. In fact, find other startups to start focusing more on delaying menopause.
Already, Gameto has some competition, including from Celmatix, a 12-year-old company creating a drug program to slow the depletion of women’s ovarian reserves and which similarly hopes to separate a woman’s endocrine function from childbearing. In the past, according to Fortune, the company received a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to work on non-hormonal contraceptives, and early last year it announced a separate partnership with drug giant Bayer and drug development company Evotec.
Meanwhile, researchers have been researching menopause as a treatable disease for at least several years. You can check out a previous paper from 2019 here.