Scouting Report-Adyn: Optimizing Women's Health Through Personalized Birth Control
Adyn, a Seattle startup, raised a $2.5 million seed round co-led by Lux Capital and M13. Adyn plans to use the funds to launch its birth control optimization test later this year. It has already sparked demand and has a waiting list for users.
Adyn’s at-home kit measures hormone baseline levels and assesses genetic risk for two of the most serious birth control side-effects: depression & blood clots
Women’s health is often understudied, resulting in medically unexplained symptoms according to a report in Cogent Psychology.
Women are more commonly misdiagnosed than men due to the medical research gap per the Association of Health Care Journalists.
Adyn’s co-founder, Dr. Elizabeth Russo came up with the idea when she encountered side-effects of changing her birth control medication and “was thrown into suicidal ideation”. Given her background as a Ph.D. in genetics and genomics, Ruzzo was able to recognize this was due to the change in medication. However, as a result of the experience, she became dedicated to defining how gender gaps in research can lead to differences in disease and drug response particularly with birth control medications. For example, the company notes that over 50% of women try four or more birth control medications before finding one that works for them. Following her experience, Ruzzo launched a platform to address health disparities in women’s health while improving health literacy for her clients. Adyn’s mission is to close the medical research gap in women’s reproductive health.
While there are platforms that offer birth control without a doctor’s prescription, Adyn is attempting to change healthcare diagnostics and delivery through its telemedicine platform by using precision medicine to better match patients with accurate birth control prescriptions that attempts to minimize side effects. For example, while there are over 200 birth control contraceptives on the market they are generally prescribed for specific patients without any kind genomic testing for side effects, etc. (not to be confused with side effects and efficacy testing during the approval process) . Since the 1960s, birth control users have generally gone through a process of trial and error with multiple birth control prescriptions before finding one that works for them. For example, according to an article in Business Insider the “average time spent on contraceptive counseling is 12.9 minutes” and both patients and providers have become accustomed to this unscientific method when it comes to finding the best birth control. Due to gender and racial gaps in medical research, the pill selection process remains shrouded in mystery and frustration resulting in a broad range of reported side effects. These can range from weight gain to blood clots to depression when the patient and provider’s actual goal would be to have birth control be side effect free. Adyn’s telemedicine platform is equipped with specialized birth control specialists who aid in the pill selection process after testing and reviewing a patient's history. Adyn’s optimized at-home test collects information about an individual’s hormone level (through multiple readings) and genetic risk (via a single reading). These results are then explained to the patient, providing them access to their own biological data to help them make the decision in a comprehensive manner. Adyn is aiming to improve both the diagnostic approach and delivery of birth control contraceptives, and Adyn expects to offer reproductive healthcare recommendations (family planning, fertility, birth control) through their trained specialists.
The Big Picture:
For the past 30 years, women have generally been using an opaque process when choosing their birth control and certainly not one as scientific as many would expect given the wide range and severity of potential side effects. By closely monitoring and pairing birth control users with contraceptives that have minimal side effects, women's daily life and reproductive health should be improved. Through feedback and surveys with their patients, Adyn will also have the opportunity to investigate other reproductive problems such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age than can cause infrequent or prolonged menstrual as well as other menstrual irregularities. Lastly, by rejecting the outdated ‘trial and error’ method for birth control selection, Adyn can help demonstrate the quality and effectiveness benefits of personalized medicine and genomics on a broad scale which is likely to shape healthcare delivery well into the future.