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A biotech working on a new approach to IVF raises $33M in fresh funding

Dive Brief:

  • Gameto, a biotechnology company developing new treatments for fertility, has raised $33 million in venture capital funding to advance technology it says could shorten in vitro fertilization cycles, as well as replace the hormonal injections currently used in the process.
  • The Series B round was led by Two Sigma Ventures and RA Capital, and involved existing investors, among them Anne Wojcicki of 23andMe and Bob Nelsen of Arch Venture Partners.
  • Gameto, which is based in New York, has now raised $73 million. It said the new funding will help it advance its Fertilo platform, which is derived from induced pluripotent stem cells and is mean to mature eggs outside of the body. The technology is already being used in the clinic in Australia and in Latin America.

Dive Insight:

In vitro fertilization, or IVF, has become more widely used in the U.S. About 2% of all infants born in the country each year are now conceived by assisted reproductive technologies like IVF, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

IVF involves the extraction of a women’s eggs, fertilizing them in a laboratory and then implanting the resulting embryos into the womb. It’s a strenuous and lengthy process that often needs to be repeated before a viable pregnancy is achieved. It’s also costly and recently, under political threat by court rulings in the U.S. concerning abortion.

Gameto hopes its technology could help make IVF less arduous.

The company’s Fertilo platform is a solution of stem cell-derived ovarian support cells that are designed to recreate the follicular environment, helping mature extracted eggs. Gameto claims that Fertilo can both replace the hormonal injections women need to take in IVF, and shorten the fertilization and freezing cycle to between two and three days, from the current 10 to 14.

“It’s astounding how little innovation has gone into improving IVF over the past 45 years,” Laura Stoppel, a principal at RA Capital, said in a statement. “Gameto is a pioneer in the women’s health industry, and we believe Fertilo represents a much-needed option for women as they navigate their fertility journey.”

The biotech said it has received a green light from the Food and Drug Administration to proceed with Phase 3 trials of Fertilo, contingent on completion of certain manufacturing and assay requirements.

Part of the Series B funding will also be used to support the commercial launch of Fertilo in Australia and Latin America.