Working with, not against, the body to help stem the maternal mortality rate
CEO: Rob Binney
Based: Menlo Park, California
The scoop: The U.S. has watched its maternal mortality rate climb steadily over the past three decades, with many, if not most, childbirth-related deaths being preventable—whether because of infections or excessive bleeding—despite medical technologies and techniques that have long been available to fight them.
A common case occurs when the muscles of the uterus become so exhausted while giving birth that they lack the energy to fully contract afterward, thereby leaving open the blood vessels that had been connected to the placenta and putting the mother in danger.
Alydia Health’s Jada system takes an ingenious approach. It applies a light vacuum to the inside of the uterus, which draws the muscle walls together and holds them toward their natural shape. On a basic level, the device delivers on a core medical tenet: apply compression to stop the bleeding.
However, it operates in practically the opposite manner as intrauterine balloons, which inflate to provide pressure in an emergency—but may work against what the body is ultimately trying to do.
Other blood-control methods include uterine massages and drugs designed to induce muscle contractions, along with their side effects and contraindications.
“The challenge with postpartum hemorrhage is that you just don’t know—it’s virtually impossible to predict which patients are not going to respond to therapeutics,” Alydia CEO Rob Binney said.
The Jada device includes a soft, silicone ring, with pores lining the inside to prevent pinches in the surrounding tissue while delivering extremely gentle suction—a pressure equivalent to the force of blood resting in the lull between two heartbeats, or just barely enough to lift a piece of paper off a table.
The vacuum connects to a cylinder that measures the amount of blood collected, giving clinicians a clearer picture of the patient's status. In a published clinical study, the system was shown to completely control bleeding in about three minutes, with a 94% success rate.
“When that bleeding happens, you’re often playing catch-up,” Binney added. “It can be a very frightening thing for providers, patients and family when you’ve got bleeding that’s unresolved and you don’t have a great solution.”
What makes Alydia fierce: The company announced its first FDA clearance for the device last September, but it already has a second on the way, with a newer generation planned for later this year. The next-gen device will incorporate ergonomic design and product kit improvements inspired by early clinician feedback.
“We've already treated 150 patients, and honestly, we consider that to be 150 moms saved,” said Binney, who joined the company last year from Intersect ENT. “It's been a really gratifying experience watching the product do what it's supposed to do.”
At the same time, Alydia is preparing to seek European approval for the system and launch a registry study tracking the experiences of 1,000 patients.
The company—formerly known as InPress Technologies, with an incubation period at Silicon Valley’s Fogarty Institute—started life with a global health focus and the goal of tackling maternal mortality in low-resource areas.
“Wall suction is something that's common in a U.S. hospital, but in the developing world not so much, so we need to come up with a solution that meets those requirements,” said Binney, as the company works to design more portable units.
“We believe that this technology has a place for use either in conjunction with therapeutics or as a replacement for some of those … and can bring calm to a very tenuous situation, that most physicians and staff will tell you is a very stressful experience,” he said.
“It is something that we believe will just naturally find its way up the treatment algorithm because people want that peace of mind.”
Investors: Alydia raised $13.9 million in a July 2020 Series C round, led by AXA Investment Managers, with additional backing from Global Health Investment Fund and Avestria Ventures.