Updating a surgical approach to infertility to be less invasive and more accessible.
CEO: Anne Osdoit
COO: Marion Gasperment
Based: Paris, France
The scoop: AblaCare is working on a less invasive method to treat infertility associated with polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, the most common endocrine disorder in women. PCOS is a leading cause of infertility and affects up to 10% of women, AblaCare says.
AblaCare hopes to restore ovulation in patients with PCOS through a one-time outpatient procedure that does not require general anesthesia. The treatment, called ovarian rebalancing, is conducted in a clinic using the same minimally invasive access pathways used by fertility doctors performing in vitro fertilization (IVF).
What makes AblaCare fierce: Current treatments for PCOS-related infertility include drugs as a first-line therapy and surgery as a second-line treatment. IVF remains as a third option if the first two do not work.
However, all three come with drawbacks. Drugs that cause eggs to mature and be released may increase the odds of pregnancy but can raise the chances of developing potentially risky multiple pregnancies—that is, twins, triplets or more. IVF, meanwhile, can be prohibitively expensive, and, like ovulation-boosting drugs, is linked to higher rates of multiple pregnancies.
The surgical option is known as ovarian drilling—“medieval-sounding,” in Chief Operating Officer Marion Gasperment’s words—and has seen “limited clinical adoption” because of its invasiveness.
In this procedure, a surgeon inserts a laparoscope through an incision in the abdomen and uses a needle to puncture the surface of the ovary. The surgeon then ablates, or destroys, small parts of the ovary using electric current, making holes that lower androgen levels and may improve ovulation.
Instead, AblaCare’s transvaginal procedure is guided by a standard ultrasound and does not require anesthesia. Its needle would deploy a small RF ablation catheter to destroy ovarian tissue and correct hormonal imbalances.
Its implementation is similar to the egg-retrieval steps performed during IVF and would “replicate the well-established success of the surgical ovarian drilling approach,” where 80% of patients resume ovulation in three months, with 60% becoming pregnant within six months, the company said.
The company has finished its preclinical work, finalized the design of its device and is now preparing for clinical trials. The study, slated to begin and conclude this year, will recruit about 30 patients with PCOS, according to Clinicaltrials.gov.
AblaCare will first focus on the European market, where “reimbursement codes are already in place for ovarian drilling and are still used quite frequently in practice,” Gasperment said at the AdvaMed MedTech Conference last September, where it was nominated as a MedTech Innovator competition finalist. It will then turn to markets in the U.S. and Asia, in that order, after raising funds.
“What we will strongly expect to investigate during our A round is an Asia opportunity. PCOS is incredibly prevalent in China. There’s no more one-child policy there and fertility is just booming in terms of treatment options. So that’s a big focus,” Gasperment said.