Hera Biotech is developing and commercializing the world’s first non-surgical, tissue-based test to aid definitive diagnosis and staging of endometriosis. This simple test diagnoses endometriosis quickly and less painfully than the current standard, which is invasive surgery.
Why We Invested?
Endometriosis is a chronic condition that affects 10-20% of women, yet it takes an average of ten years in the US for women to receive a diagnosis. Approximately 35-50% of endometriosis patients experience infertility issues, making endometriosis the number one cause of female infertility. This painful condition is frequently misdiagnosed, misunderstood and dismissed. There is currently no reliable test for confirming a diagnosis of endometriosis. Instead sufferers must undergo a surgical biopsy, requiring general anesthesia, which only results in confirmation of the disease around 50% of the time. Given these risks, it is understandable why physicians and patients alike are hesitant to pursue it. This is why Hera Biotech is on a path to pioneer a new, simple, reliable and non-surgical test.
About Hera Biotech
Hera Biotech was founded by a serial entrepreneur and research scientists who combined their expertise and passion for this problem to find a new solution to diagnose endometriosis. The technology they use has existed for many years but has never been brought to help solve this pain point in women’s health. This diversity of thought, unique approach, and the application of existing technology in a new way is a central theme in the wave of innovation we’re seeing in women’s health.
The Founding Team - Somer Baburek, Bruce Nicholson, Nameer Kirma, Paul Castella - bring combined experience and passion for life science entrepreneurship, women’s reproductive health, clinical research and operations and biotech commercialization to bring this innovation to life. Together, they hope to offer women and endometriosis sufferers a simple and reliable means to diagnose their pain.
The test works by looking at gene expression across different cell types. Stromal and epithelial cells are cell types that work together in the endometrial lining. Gap Junction genes play a crucial role in cell communication, and scientists discovered that these genes vary in individuals with endometriosis, and since the stromal and epithelial cells vary in the level of expression for the gene panels, the cell types must be separated first. In their first study of 20 women, Hera Biotech showed 100% accuracy in diagnosing and staging endometriosis by stage.
Hera will first launch in fertility clinics to aid in diagnosing endometriosis to support fertility, and long term plans to move into OB/GYN clinics with the issuance of a reimbursement code. The science holds potential to diagnose additional conditions where invasive behavior is central to the disease pathology.
Our Journey Together
We met Hera Biotech early on in the formation of Coyote Ventures and quickly realized that there was a strong match. Their stellar team was offering a true innovation in the field of endometriosis diagnosis and staging. Hera raised a Seed round to begin their proof-of-concept study and for a pre-submission meeting with the FDA to consider a breakthrough designation for their endometriosis diagnostic. Coyote Ventures is excited to support Hera Biotech with this innovation in women’s health. Since investing, Hera has received the Banner Health Pilot Award, which is significant because Banner is a healthcare payer/provider system that will pilot the test throughout their healthcare system and give Hera its first customer and insurance payer at the same time.
Advancing the Conversation around Endometriosis
With one in ten women suffering from endometriosis, why do we accept that diagnosis can take 7-10 years? Hera Biotech helps to offer a reliable, non-invasive test which can contribute to giving women answers, quickly, and help break the cycle of misdiagnosis, misunderstanding and stigma that surrounds this painful condition. The fact that they are applying existing technology to provide answers to an age-old condition shows how, with a little thought, we can change our mindset and approach to women’s health.