Precision medicine company adyn closed a $2.5 million seed round of funding to develop personalized birth control.
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The seed round, the Seattle-based company’s first institutional funding, was co-led by Lux Capital and M13 with participation from Civilization Ventures, Concrete Rose Capital and Y Combinator, as well as a group of angel investors including Anne Wojcicki, Nish Bhat, Qasar Younis and Ashley Mayer.
Medication side effects are the main reason women switch birth control methods, adyn founder Elizabeth Ruzzo told Crunchbase News. Those side effects can range from acne and weight gain to major risks, such as blood clots and depression. Each year in the U.S., among every 10,000 women, 5 to 10 women will experience a blood clot, according to a study published in the journal Contraception.
adyn’s first product, the Birth Control Optimization Test, is an at-home kit enabling users to collect both saliva and finger prick samples to measure hormone baseline levels and aims to assess genetic risk for blood clots and depression.
The company’s technology then synthesizes a medical biography with side effect profiles of estrogens and progestins used in hormonal contraception. A physician approves the prescription and the results. adyn is also building in a telemedicine visit so that women can receive assistance in understanding the results.
As a Ph.D. in genetics and genomics, Ruzzo spent more than 10 years researching and identifying genetic risk for complex diseases such as epilepsy and autism, and in precision medicine. During her research, she found that the average woman in the U.S. takes birth control for 30 years, but the standard of care for hormonal birth control prescription is still trial and error, with the average time spent on contraceptive counseling being 12.9 minutes.
“Until now, there was no intelligent way to pick between the 200 options available in the U.S.,” said Ruzzo, who founded adyn in 2019. “We are bringing science into this to take away the trial and error.”
Like many women, Ruzzo went on birth control at an early age as a method to treat acne. At the same time, she was also taking a prescription acne medication known to cause depression, she said.
When she began experiencing the depression symptoms, she figured it was caused by the acne medication. Later, when she was only on the birth control, the symptoms began to get worse, to the point that Ruzzo said she considered suicide.
“I spoke with my medical professional, who said no, it couldn’t be the birth control, but when I went off of it, I began to feel better,” she added. “I wondered why I was essentially ‘medically gaslighted,’ and why my doctor didn’t help me. I certainly didn’t know there were that many birth control choices.”
Ruzzo intends to use the funding to grow her team and launch the waiting list for the optimization test to get it in the hands of users.
In addition to birth control, adyn is considering other hormonal use cases, including menopause, as well as leveraging data to understand if a diagnosis of PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) or endometriosis could be made with less invasive diagnostic methods.
Meanwhile, Lux Capital Partner Deena Shakir said in a statement that adyn is offering better options for women related to family planning and control over their health.
“Dr. Ruzzo and her team have achieved a breakthrough in both technology and business model, which together will fundamentally transform the quality and precision of health care diagnostics and delivery,” Shakir added.
In addition, M13 Partner and Head of Brand Christine Choi said in a statement that adyn is introducing “a new standard of care for birth control and closing gaps caused by historic inequity in medical research.”
Next up, Ruzzo intends to navigate the women who have pre-ordered the optimization test through the full experience and then will bring people off of the waiting list.
“People have found adyn without us doing any marketing, which is a testament to how needed it is,” she added. “It is an incredible motivator to hear people’s stories, how hard it was to find the right birth control and how positive it was when they did.”
Illustration: Dom Guzman
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