Endometriosis is an often-painful condition in which uterine tissue grows outside the uterus. In addition to painful menstrual cycles, those with endometriosis may suffer other complications such as infertility and even ovarian cancer, according to the Mayo Clinic; approximately one-third to one-half of people with endometriosis struggle to conceive.
“More than half of unexplained infertility is due to endometriosis,” said Dr. Hugh Taylor, Chair of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at the Yale School of Medicine and Chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Yale-New Haven Hospital, said in a press release. “If the disease is diagnosed and treated prior to IVF, women will have a higher likelihood of getting pregnant.”
However, physicians tend to test for endometriosis as a last resort. Currently, an invasive laparoscopic procedure is the only accurate diagnostic tool for the condition, which comes with risks like infections, internal bleeding and hernias.
DotLab, a personalised health startup, is looking to transform screenings, diagnostics and care for endometriosis. The company has designed DotEndo, a cheaper, non-invasive alternative to the current diagnostic standard for endometriosis testing.
“The revolutionary technology behind DotLab’s endometriosis test could improve the lives of the hundreds of millions of women affected by this debilitating disease which has been under-researched and deprioritised for too long,” said Heather Bowerman, DotLab CEO.
Heather told TechCrunch that DotEndo is not a genetic test that merely helps people discover possible genetic markers around fertility, but rather an exam ordered by a physician to diagnose this specific condition. As Heather told ehealthnews.co.za, the test detects the quantity of microRNAs, endometriosis-specific biomarkers.
“DotLab’s microRNA biomarkers were identified from a screen of thousands of different human microRNA sequences using a comprehensive microarray,” she explained. “From these thousands of microRNA candidates, we identified the subset that showed the greatest magnitude of up- or down-regulation in women with endometriosis. DotEndo is based on a combination of these endometriosis-associated microRNAs, which we have shown in clinical studies to be both highly sensitive and highly specific when compared to laparoscopy.”
With the test, Heather stated that patients can get “the information they need at the disease’s earliest stages, at the time of their first physician visit.”
“Earlier detection can mitigate reproductive and other complications arising from untreated or advanced endometriosis, and research has even shown that treating endometriosis can reduce the risk of ovarian cancer,” she said.
DotLab has recently finished a validation study led by Yale University and raised $10 million in Series A funding to go towards bringing the test to market through additional clinical validation, expanding market access and growing the DotLab team.