In this series, we explain why we invested in our current portfolio companies. In the process, we hope to highlight the white spaces in women’s health and the life sciences — as well as the people, products, and companies working to fill those gaps. The name “Under the Microscope” refers both to our extensive due diligence process and our investment focus on healthcare and the life sciences.
While it may seem unbelievable, the United States has the worst maternal mortality rate in the developed world: 17.4 deaths per 100,000 live births. In fact, the U.S is the only developed nation where the maternal death rate has been steadily rising, more than doubling over the past two decades and increasing 80% alone from 1990 to 2015. Women of color are often affected the most: black women have a maternal death rate of 37.1 deaths per 100,000 live births compared to 14.7 for white women and 11.8 for Hispanic women.
Globally, the United States ranks about 55th based on its maternal mortality rate: above Russia (17 per 100,000) and before Ukraine (19 per 100,000).
A 2018 study reported that the leading cause of maternal mortality was postpartum hemorrhage (PPH). The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) officially defines as at least 1,000 mL cumulative blood loss (or loss of blood coinciding with signs and symptoms of hypovolemia) within 24 hours after delivery of the fetus or intrapartum loss. In other words, PPH is the excessive bleeding after delivery.
Side effects of PPH include impaired blood clotting (dilutional coagulopathy), obstructed blood flow to the heart (myocardial ischemia), low blood pressure (orthostatic hypotension) as well as maternal death: postpartum hemorrhage is responsible for 25% of delivery-associated deaths worldwide (though that number can be as high as 60% in some countries). In the United States, PPH affects about 3% of mothers and causes approximately 11% of maternal deaths. 70% of those deaths may be preventable.
A mother’s current PPH treatment options are limited, are often ineffective, and could leave her with lasting health issues.
In 2017, ACOG recognized the need for increased standardization around PPH treatment due to the lack of an effective option.
The first line of treatment for PPH is usually uterine massage and drugs, which can work too slowly, result in serious side effects, or simply not work at all. There are some second-line, non-drug options that can successfully work to stop postpartum hemorrhage, like a balloon tamponade, but those treatments have their own risks: their treatment time is 12–24 hours and they can disguise the fact that the woman is still bleeding, rather than stopping that bleeding. The next line of treatments includes uterine artery embolization or hysterectomies: both risky procedures that result in longer hospital stays, increased healthcare costs, and — in the case hysterectomies — a woman’s future pregnancies. In addition, transfusions are often necessary after any of these treatments to restore the mother’s blood volume following a hemorrhage.
Alydia Health is offering a quick, effective, and easy-to-use solution to postpartum hemorrhage.
Formerly known as In-Press Technologies, Alydia was founded in 2011 by then 21-year-old Jessie Becker as part of a start-up competition. When we came across the company in 2018 — thanks to an introduction by Wende Hutton, General Partner at Canaan Partners — it had already completed the first version of Jada® and its first set of trials. Alydia’s Jada® System is a non-invasive medical device to control postpartum hemorrhage safely, quickly and effectively. Jada® is a device made of silicone, the same material as a pacifier, and consists of a thin tube with a collapsible soft loop. The loop is placed in the uterus and uses low-level vacuum to achieve control of hemorrhage: removing blood and stimulating the uterus to contract and stop bleeding, as it should do naturally.
In its first study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Jada® removed blood, collapsed the uterus, and stopped hemorrhaging within 2 minutes for every one of the study’s 10 participants. Jada® provides fast and definitive control of hemorrhage without the need for further treatment in 94% of cases in the pivotal clinical trial.
Alydia is continuing to hit major milestones
We invested in Alydia in 2018 because we believe that the company’s novel, non-invasive, and easy-to-use device to control postpartum hemorrhage is sorely needed, both in the U.S and in the world at large.
Since we invested, the company has run further trials and the resulting clinical evidence helped the Jada® System receive FDA 510(k) clearance in 2020: a huge achievement. The company’s pivotal PEARLE study reinforced the device’s effectiveness: Jada® controlled postpartum hemorrhage in a median of three minutes for each mother with a 94% success rate. The company also hired CEO Rob Binney, whose strong commercialization background can help bring Jada® to hospitals, first in the U.S and then to a potential global market.
We believe that Alydia’s Jada® System can offer a sorely needed treatment for PPH. Within just a few minutes, this simple and effective device has the potential to reduce healthcare costs and save mothers’ lives around the world.
At Avestria Ventures, we look for early-stage women’s health and female-led life science companies with products or technologies that improve healthcare quality and/or access, lower costs, induce clinical or behavioral change, are evidence based, have scalable commercialization plans, and have a sustainable competitive advantage. Know one? Contact us via our website, LinkedIn, or Twitter.